We are all potentially dangerous. Even a teenager playing a game can cause major havoc, as was shown in Germany when some American youths (sons of soldiers) lobbed stones as big as soccer balls from a bridge onto a highway.
One rock the size of a small loaf of bread smashed through the windshield of a compact car driven by a 20-year-old Darmstadt woman, killing her and critically injuring her 75-year-old grandmother. A 41-year-old mother of two small children from nearby Pfungstadt also was killed.
Society only survives because most of us would not dream of harming others this way. Society requires that we have a level of trust in each other.
In 1995, a man named Timothy McVeigh drove a truck to the Federal Building in Oklahoma city. The truck had 5000 pounds of explosive in it. The explosion killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 450 others. Timothy McVeigh did this for freedom against a tyrannical government.
After being caught, he said:
To these people in Oklahoma who have lost a loved one, I’m sorry but it happens every day. You’re not the first mother to lose a kid, or the first grandparent to lose a grandson or a granddaughter. It happens every day, somewhere in the world. I’m not going to go into that courtroom, curl into a fetal ball and cry just because the victims want me to do that.
This shows the kind of damage one person can do. (Though he had some help from the Nichol brothers).
So what makes people dangerous? The will to do evil, the lack of internal barriers to do evil, and when those two are present, general competence, determination, organization, and intelligence.
But as we see, even teenagers can do a lot of damage without being particularly competent or intelligent.
Sometimes evil is done in the name of good – a daughter will leave her secular parents in Europe, convert to Islam, and suddenly appear in the new “Islamic State”, where, to her parent’s surprise, she has already married a fighter. Remember, IS has crucified people, torn people’s eyes out, traded in sex slaves. But this woman does not care – she is part of a glorious resurrection of the Caliphate.
I remember reading what a North Korean guard did to a hapless prisoner, while shouting “Death to the enemies of the people!” Again, noble idealism causing misery all around.
Psychopaths also bring sudden danger into the safest of places. Michelle Knight, a 21-year-old woman, was promised a new puppy by a nice seeming man named Ariel Castro in 2002, and was imprisoned in that man’s house until 2013. She was starved, chained, raped multiple times, and brutalized. She was humiliated psychologically. Who could expect this evil emanating from the two-story home in Cleveland?
It is a valuable gift to live in a society where you feel safe. It may be boring and predictable, but its a gift.
This is changing, unfortunately, for all of us.