The Ugly Within Us

By -

This post is going to have nothing to do with charts, trading, indicators, analogs, unemployment, or anything else to do with money. It has to do with human evil, and it is prompted by something deeply disturbing I read last night. As I begin this post, I’m not quite sure what I have to say (and I hope I do not prove this by continuing with the submission of this post), but I know it’s bothering me.

sleepybearEach night, as I wait for my kids to nod off to sleep, I make a habit of reading. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day, plopped down with my iPad next to my younger child, waiting to hear her gentle snore. It’s a peaceful time of day, and I’m relieved of the pressure of having to stare at prices wiggling up and down on eight screens around me. It’s the most relaxing aspect of my entire existence.

I happened to come across a story that was anything but relaxing, however. It was about the San Fernanco Massacre which took place in 2011. The massacre involved the murder of 193 innocent civilians who had the misfortune of traveling on a Mexican freeway that was in the territory of drug lord Miguel Treviño Morales (who, I was pleased to see, was finally captured just a few weeks ago by the Mexican marines).

Now, we live in a world where violence, mayhem, and murders take place every day of the year. The impact these have on us tends to be strongly correlated to proximity. If you hear on the news that 300 people died this morning in Egypt, you probably don’t even give it a second thought. On the other hand, if someone is tied to a bed and killed with fire on the street next to yours, people will talk about it for months (errr, this example is drawn from real-life experience).

I’m not one to follow the drug wars closely either. About a hundred thosuand people have been either murdered or have disappeared in the Mexican drug wars. I’m not here to weigh in on drug trade or drug laws either. The libertarian side of me thinks we should just decriminalize everything, although I personally think people who use drugs have fecal matter in their head. It’s a waste of human potential and God-given health.

Having said all this, I was profoundly troubled reading the story about the massacre, most especially by the first-hand account of one of the survivors. I would encourage you to read this account, not because it makes for pleasant reading, but because I think it’s important to know the depth of depravity and barbarism humans are capable of performing.

In spite of the personality I portray on this blog, I am not especially cynical about human nature. I hellbelieve that humans are innately good, and they yearn to live a good life. I believe man’s natural state is one of gentleness and creativity, not destruction. But there are some among us who are evil. This evil may stem from mental illness, a horrific childhood, a hellish environment, or some other psychological trauma in their adult lives. But they are evil nonetheless, and tiny minority though they are, they are out there.

If you read the account, it’s sickening enough to read what was done to the victims (murder, rape, running over live bodies with a bus, etc.) What is much more disturbing to me is regular people being compelled to perform evil acts. Men were paired off with crude weapons and ordered to kill one another, and the survivor was allowed to perform dangerous missions for the cartel. These were just people on a bus. These were not killers. But they were made into killers by force. They betrayed their own innate goodness. They were forced (in the last act of their lives, for half of them) to engage in the most heartless barbarism imaginable.

How can you possibly punish the perpetrators of such an act? I ask the question not to conjure up what we need to “do” to such people. Stooping to their level is not the answer. The real answer, to my way of thinking, is that the only real punishment that is possible would be for the perpetrators to (a) achieve awareness as to what they did and (b) be exposed to it for the rest of time.

This isn’t something a court can do, and I’m certainly not expecting henchmen from a drug cartel to seek enlightenment. If there is a benevolent higher force in the universe, I would think the only true “justice” that could be meted out against such depraved souls would be a stark exposure to the nature of their wrongs, the suffering they caused others, and the agony that they promulgated to victims, families, and friends. That, to me, would be a self-imposed hell.

But I began thinking of myself too. Most of you have probably figured out I’m not a drug lord, or even a henchmen, but I have evil within me too. It’s smaller, and subtler, but it is there. It shows itself in the form of anger, frustration, and lashing out. I embarrass myself by behaving childishly at times. I shame myself by doing and saying things I should neither say nor do. And I do these things on a relatively public stage, and the chasm between me and my ideal self is much wider than I desire.

So I will strive to be better. I will try to be less angry. I will try to be more calm. And I will try to see things from other points of view, instead of just my own. I am growing old faster than I ever thought I would, and this is not the person I wanted to be at this age. There’s work to be done, and as far-fetched as it might seem for a story of mayhem in the middle of Mexico to prompt me to consider the darkness within my own heart, I am telling you the truth.

Perhaps the story you read will speak to you in its own way. For my readers, you have been patient and generous with me, and I wanted you to know as hard as I work on this blog, I have fallen short, and I intend to try to do a better job with myself, my attitude, and my disposition.