The world seems to be going crazy just now. High profile crimes dominate the newspapers. In the UK there is the scandal of child molesting public personalities and yesterday two homeless men were stabbed to death in Birmingham. The United States has mass murder and attempted mass murder at schools. India is reeling from the gang rape, torture and murder of a young woman. Is there a onnection between these terrible crimes? Indeed, is there a connection between any crimes, a common factor of criminality?
I was discussing this very point with Krista Krueger, a writer from Maryland in the USA and a fellow blogger in WordPress [try her KompletelyKrista for her unique slant on the world] and we think there could be a loose link. It is very simple but very dark: in just about every case of violence, the link is a predator preying on somebody physically weaker than themselves. Note I say ‘physically weaker’: in many cases the predator him or her self may be emotionally and psychologically weak, or even damaged.
I am presently heavily engaged in writing a series of popular history books about 19th Century crime in various parts of Scotland. Some of the cases are horrific, many are very sad but again many have a common link. There are cases of infanticide, where a mother [very seldom a father] murders her baby; there are cases of a husband murdering his wife [very few of a wife murdering her husband]; there are attacks by gangs of young men on individuals; there are gangs of prostitutes assaulting and robbing drunk or lonely men. . . see the link again? A stronger, if possibly socially inadequate person, or group of persons, attacking a weaker, such as happened in the rape case in India, the shootings in the USA or the child molestation cases in the UK. Predators preying on the vulnerable.
That seems to be crime in a nutshell. The televison and films may paint romance over criminals, but in my researches they are usually inadequate, scared, unpleasant and often scared individuals: or people driven to violence or theft by despair, frustration or hunger. The people society has failed, or simply horrible people? Or a mixture of both
The title of this blog I took from my own novel The Darkest Walk, which is about a police detective in Victorian Britain. He is sent to uncover a possible uprising among the working people of northern England in 1847, a time of great social unrest, but when he sees the poverty in which they live and experiences their essential decency, he has mixed loyalties. However as he delves deeper he discovers another, more devious plot that involves the very highest in the land. During his investigations his own life story and that of his female companion, are also peeled away to reveal that both are occupied with their own dark walk through life.
The moral of the book is this: which is the darkest walk of crime? People striving for social justice, or their rulers, striving for position and control? The Darkest Walk shows both. It includes some of the more sordid realities of 19th century life together with the solid decency that made reality bearable for most. It is when life became unbearable, physically, financially or emotionally, that many people turn to crime. Others of course, are just plain evil.
But here is a question: which is worse, the criminal who preys on individuals or the govenment that starts a war in which hundreds, thousands or millions will suffer? Without the power to control governments we can only pray for peace, and negotiate our own dark walk through life.