The Most Dangerous Person in the World

Recently we’ve all been appalled by the London riots and by the “flash mobs” of young folks that come out of nowhere to rob and assault people right here in the good old USA.

What causes this behavior? In the case of London particularly, what would drive young people to literally burn down parts of their own community?

First, it has nothing to do with race. While American flash mobs so far have been black, the looting yobs in England were both black and white.

It also has nothing to do with being “poor” or “oppressed.” As events have shown, many of the British looters were from the comfortable middle class. One of the arrested looters is the daughter of a millionaire!

A somewhat more nuanced analysis claims it’s because these kids have never been held responsible or faced discipline for their bad behavior. That’s true for sure in the UK, but I bet many of the kids in the USA flash mobs have older relatives who go to church and have taught them right from wrong.

Yes, thanks to dreadful economic leadership, many bitter UK kids don’t see opportunity falling into their laps in the forseeable future. Neither do slackers, who are famous for NOT rampaging about destroying things (except in a “Jackass”-y kind of nerdy showing off).

The difference is that slackers are basically content, not bitter. If anything, they are too content. (All moms of slackers know exactly what I mean!) But I’ll bet that if you asked them, barring a few weak-willed kids who got caught up in the group and now regret it, most of the rioters and flash mobbers feel sorry for themselves.

I have always told my children, “The most dangerous person in the world is someone who feels sorry for himself.” When you think of yourself as a victim, you are automatically entitled in your own mind to compensation. Special treatment. Payback. The more you pity yourself, the less mercy you have for others.

A lifetime of being told by schools and the media that “The Man” is the only reason you aren’t rich and famous – it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with your avoidance of study and work or your terrible attitude – leads to festering self-pity. Not that self-pity is confined to the underprivileged. Rich kids can feel sorry for themselves, too, with the same potential for irrational destruction. And since the world “owes” you something, why not strike back? Especially since you think you can get away with it, anonymous in a crowd?

The personal lesson to take away from the riots and flash mobs is the searing visual image of what self-pity creates: attacks on others and mindless destruction. This is why the Bible urges us to beware of the “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15). What a great teachable moment for our kids. What a great teachable moment for us.

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