From stabbings to shootings, to muggings, why are our youth so obsessed with crime?
As I elucidated in my post ‘Why is the world in such a bad state?’ we all have a natural quest for belonging, for meaning, for happiness and well being. The youth who are inclined towards a life of crime, confrontation and conflict seem as if they are not in search for ‘peace’, but it’s as if aggression and tension are the states that make them feel the best. The psychological reasons why people choose – and the emphasis is on the word choose – to lead an aggressive life has been studied in some depth: they look for trouble because in doing so they mask their deep unease about themselves. The individual, whether it be a boy or girl, believes his or her hostility towards others will bring them well being and allow them to feel at ease. Human beings who behave in these modes of behavior are trying to regain possession of themselves – they feel lost – and in the eyes of others, they want their recognition, trust and love. Their hostile behavior is often a form of communication, and looking for trouble is a sign of them looking to fill a gaping void in their life.
Those whom they love, or admire, determine the world in which they belong. Their real or symbolic violence is their own way of entering that ‘world’ and then having a sense of belonging. They can then be seen and then recognized by others, and ensure they have a place within that ‘world’. Belonging to a community means obeying their rules and procedures, and if, for example, that community is filled with hate, aggression and crime, the adherents too will follow suit.
Although I doubt the term ‘psychological hedonism’ goes through the mind of our young criminals before they decide whether to commit a crime, it is on this basis that they freely choose their behavior. The perpetrator plans his or her behavior based on the pain vs pleasure basis. If the pleasure is deemed to outweigh the pain, the the action is necessitated. The crime is ultimately done as part of a selfish desire to get something for nothing.
The purpose of prison is meant to remove the individual from the world he/she was inhabiting and make them come to the self-realization that their previous life only breeds further disquietude and agitation within the psyche. For some, prison serves its purpose: they break free from the shackles they had put on themselves and come out reformed. For others, however, the world they previously lived in has been irremovably imprinted on their personality. So even when they try to reform, they slip back into old habits and find themselves in the same desperate situation as before.
The latest figures from the Metropolitan police show a sharp increase in crime over the last 12 months according to the Telegraph. Compounded with this, is the Evening Standard’s alarming figures published last month of functional illiteracy amongst the youth in London. For some, a lack of education is a primary reason for an escalation of crime in society. For others, it is because of poverty. For me, it is deep psychological reasons which are understood through philosophical analysis, coupled, of course, with socio-economic factors.
Everybody needs a purpose in their life to carry on living in some sort of ease. It is exactly when a person loses all sense of purpose and hope that they commit suicide. A religious believer’s purpose may be to ascend into the celestial world once they die. An atheist or agnostic’s purpose could be to live a good life, or even, live to pass down their DNA-as Richard Dawkins says our purpose is.
The astounding crime rates amongst our youth emanate from their quest for purpose. Because they feel severely disenfranchised, lost and demoralized by the supposed lack of ‘opportunities’ around them, they feel contempt inside themselves and often resort to aggressive behavior to vent their internal disquietude.
Regardless of whether one believes in a Divine being or not, we need to show the youth – who will one day run our world – that, every individual can transcend their environment and circumstances, and lead a rich and fulfilling life where they have a purpose.
Feel free to comment if you disagree.