The Racket #32 : CRIME
Mine eyes have certainly seen.
It isn't re-inventing the wheel to believe that crime - what we as a society believe to be abhorrent, beyond the pale of approved decency acts - isn't exactly a category steeped in objective truth. Crime is the thin, opaque border we draw around that in which we want to believe is bad. The justice that we cheerlead, sturdy and unyielding as we wish it to be, isn't enacted in service of a happy, healthy society (though if we're talking subjective, "happy" and "healthy" top the pile of diverse interpretation). It is a piece of plywood with some rusty nails pounded into it, a blunt tool used to categorically dehumanize whomever and whatever those who stand above believe provides an obstacle to the gushing river of history.
Crime is what we want it to be. Justice even more so. These foundational notions of good and evil are just mobile grey areas we push around the center point of human existence.
It isn't a particularly new epiphany - humans have been questioning the nature of good and evil since Cain killed Abel, hell, since the first caveman coveted another caveman's shiny, stone axe. With a certain yellow-haired demagogue ranting from the podium and a 24-hour news cycle battering us with the worst possible outcomes of any given situation, it is now a realization descending quickly on to an unprecedented number of people. Foundational abstracts like crime and justice, support structures we humans have leaned against for so long, aren't the stable keystones we once believed them to be.
It doesn't stop at abstract concepts either (though really, what isn't an abstract concept if you really dig deep?). Look at institutional structures - banks, hospitals, Wall Street, the church, the police force, etc. - and look at how in the glaring halogen spotlight of modernity the cracks are starting to show. No matter the amount of spackle we try to force into them to get everything back up to snuff, they keep leaning a just a little bit to the side, the weight of their own history pulling them towards the ground. And when structures we've held on to for so long suddenly grow porous and prone to violent shifts, it seems like society itself is pulling itself apart at the seams.
Here's the thing: it is. Society is ripping itself apart right now and it is abjectly terrifying. We are, right now this very moment, watching our perceived notions of government, of faith, of science, of medicine, of whatever being torn asunder and I get it, it's fucking scary.
But it's also just the idea of society imposing its natural order: change. Humanity isn't a straight line, there isn't one true path through the wilderness of existence, we won't find an objective solution to anything - we'll muddle along, making mistakes, punching new holes, repairing the damage and moving on. Society isn't a skeleton holding us up, it's a muscle we rip and tear and let heal and as we heal it grows stronger. And then we do it all over again. Rip, tear, heal, rip, tear, heal, rip, tear, heal - our strength growing all the time.
When we are scared we grasp, with a dying person's grip on to what we believe to be holding us up. In doing so we subvert the natural process of change and growth and transition to new and better states of being. Here we are, the world seemingly crumbling around us, everything we thought we knew to be concrete suddenly revealed to be quicksand. The urge to hold on to what came before is strong, but now is not the time to cling, it is the time to push off into what looks like the great, dark unknown, but is truly just the next, natural step.