This is an example, from today’s New York Times, of why my father moved us out of New York City almost 50 years ago. Some teenagers were having a birthday party at an apartment in the Bronx:
Witnesses said that a group of older, seemingly drunken men entered the party, at a first-floor apartment at 1776 Weeks Avenue in Tremont, and behaved inappropriately with some of the younger female guests. That prompted an argument and a fight before the men left the apartment.
Thirty minutes later, about 2 a.m., as some from the party spilled into the building’s lobby, the men returned with guns and began firing, witnesses said.
While tourists and visitors from the suburbs are, these days, mostly safe in the city, residents — in some areas more than in others, clearly — have a day-to-day risk that accumulates to significance over time. Break-ins, burglaries, robberies and other personal attacks... these are far too common, still. Murders are down, we hear, but, of course, that’s little consolation to the families of these victims.
What I always want to know when I hear about these sorts of things is what makes people behave worse than wild animals? Sometimes it’s subsistence, when attacking someone for his money, or stealing his things to sell, is the only way one knows to eat and survive. But stories like this just make me shake my head in disbelief, to see that people can be so callous, so senselessly violent.
I wonder why, and I wonder whether there’s any way to address it, to change it.