Thursday, July 31, 2008

A word about monsoons, making plans and criminology

No one knows why anyone does anything. People lack sense, in many things, but can turn around and be very incisive. There is just no telling.

When I was 16 years old, I was attending Brookdale Community College, in Lincroft, for my associate's degree, in the year between finishing high school and joining the service.

I ended up finishing the degree when I was in the service, when I got the time years later. But the early credits were very helpful in this effort.

I was a criminal justice student, and one of the most notable teachers and classes I had were Dr. Ron Sopenhoff's criminology course. I hope I got Dr. Sopenhoff's name right. He was a good teacher, but 27 years goes a long way to misspelling a name.

Criminology was a mandatory class to graduate, as I recall. But it was also a class that the students generally liked to attend. Why? Because he had the answer to why people commit crimes, of course. Dr. Sopenhoff knew why people did lousy things to one another – absolutely.

So, beginning with Cesara Lombroso's Theory of Criminal Man, then onto Cesara Baccaria's Theory of Crimes of Passion and so on, and so on, Dr. Sopenhoff convinced students, week after week, that the theory we were going over in class was the theory of criminality.

Inevitably, though, Dr. Sopenhoff would come up with a fatal flaw in every theory we studied, after that segment was over, until there didn't seem to be much sense about anything. One minute, the world is nice and orderly, people do things because of such and so. Then the next minute, everyone was back to knowing less than nothing about criminal causation.

Finally, it was the last day of class and some of us, myself included, wanted to know the theory that brings it all together and makes everything crystal clear. Dr. Sopenhoff had the answer to the universe where this was involved and I was sure he was going to enlighten everyone: He did.

"No one knows why anyone does anything," he said. "There are theories but all of them are going to have holes and there is always going to be some variable about why people commit crime, don’t commit crime, sometimes commit crime or might commit crime. But no one knows, really."

'How dare he!' I thought to myself. A plot twist! No one knows why anyone does anything? That's what it is? The most learned men and women studying criminology for so many years, and the sum total of it all is that no one knows why anyone does anything?

That seem to fit with the answer that I got from another institution I attended, though not so regularly – church.

Some people try and stay on the straight and narrow and others do not. Whether someone is wearing an expensive suit or the worst rags on the street, it is not an indicator of what is going on inside someone's head.

In the end, everything is free will and individual desire.

All of that was said to come to the final part of this little commentary: There is a lot going on about race and politics in the Bayshore right now.

I have no idea about why, ultimately, this topic has risen to the surface so powerfully now. Why old wounds are being pulled open between the races is a mystery. Sometimes, things happen simply because they do. Issues like this are as predictable as monsoons in tropical climates. But, like monsoons, usually everyone ends up getting wet because of them.

1 comment:

Art Gallagher said...

You have no idea why? That's easy Jim.

I brought up race and you politized it. End of story.