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At the mercy of fools

By Nikos Konstandaras

The death of a young man at an Easter lunch in a village near Rethymno on Crete and the very serious injury of an American guest at a Resurrection ceremony on Santorini must not be forgotten in a matter of days, as has been the case with so many “accidents” in the past.

The two latest incidents are no accident, nor the result of some metaphysical misfortune: They are human sacrifices on the altar of the most persistent religion in this strange land – the religion of dangerous irresponsibility, with the dogma of personal impunity and social tolerance for illegality.

The idiot who empties his gun into a fellow celebrant at lunch and the group of imbeciles who throw powerful explosives into a crowd of unsuspecting people outside a church are not acting on their own nor in the heat of the moment. They are part of our institutionalized chaos, participants in the mystery called “I do what I like and may the devil take whoever is in my way.”

There is nothing personal between perpetrators and victims – the victims were simply unlucky. Chosen by the wheel of fortune, they could have been anyone. As the gods once toyed with mortals, the person who acts without any sense of the danger that he creates destroys the lives of others with the ease of one who feels that he is covered by his society’s customs.

Shakespeare expressed it best in “King Lear”: “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” In Greece the fools have this honor.

The person who handles a gun without respect for its power, who throws a deadly device into a crowd, who drives his car like a war chariot that’s out of control or who rides his motorbike on the sidewalk does so because in his feeble brain he feels that he absorbs the power of the gun, of the explosive, of his vehicle’s murderous mass. He does this in order to look stronger than his peers, or in order to keep up with them. He identifies with others who do the same – but because he is more foolish, more reckless, he becomes a killer. He destroys others and, becoming a scapegoat, is himself destroyed. But what is his crime when a whole society was indifferent to the danger and encouraged criminality by not setting clear limits for its own protection?

This question goes to the heart of the matter, because the limits had been violated long before the murder. They are crossed when society does not adopt or implement laws and regulations which ensure the smooth coexistence of its members and which deal with problems that arise.

When laws are implemented arbitrarily and improvisation is allowed, all the accumulated wisdom of civilization is lost. Then society is at the mercy of the least responsible, the most dangerous, the most unpredictable of its members. And this tolerance will continue to be measured in lives.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday April 24, 2014 (22:03)  
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