I don’t understand “people.” I know I am part of “people,” and we are alike in many ways. The parts I don’t understand are the ways we are not alike. It may come across as egocentric, but there are some kinds of people I just can’t grasp. I am not talking here about serial killers, for example, who are so far different from the rest of us that very few other people do understand them (besides others who are like them and scientists who study them). I am talking here about people who lead seemingly normal lives on the surface but who do things that are so fiercely mean and/or so utterly stupid that it defies understanding by most of the rest of us. These are the people who leave me shaking my head in disgust and confusion. This week has brought two cases in point.
Early this morning in Edmonton, around 3 a.m., an eighteen year old woman named Faith Alexandra Jackson was struck by a car and killed on the north side of the city (82nd Street near the 141st Avenue). She was the 11th pedestrian-vehicle fatality of 2012, which means that on average one person has died after being hit by a car each month this year. In the first place, I don’t understand why so many pedestrians are hit and killed here. For a small city, that number seems quite large to me (it represents 40% of this year’s traffic fatalities). Why are people driving so carelessly? Why are they so oblivious to what’s going on around them?
Even more, I don’t understand how a driver who hits someone in the street can then just drive off and leave victim to die alone as this driver did with this young woman who had her whole life yet to live. How does someone come to be so cold, unfeeling? How does someone have so little compassion? I just don’t understand.
Odds are high (exact numbers, I don’t know) that, given that it was the wee hours of a Sunday morning—after a Saturday night—the driver was likely drunk. Which is another thing I just can’t fathom. We know so much about the dangers of drinking and driving, and so many alternatives for getting home after a night on the town are available that it is beyond my ability to comprehend why anyone mixes alcohol and driving anymore. It is so nonsensical that I find it hard to believe anyone is that stupid. What will it take for people to stop risking—and taking—lives? How do we get through to these imbeciles?
In another story I can’t understand, Amanda Todd, a young girl in BC, committed suicide after years of cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and real bullying. She was tortured by others repeatedly even though she moved schools more than once to get away from her tormentors. But they never let up. They hounded her and made her life hell even after their behaviour made her move. She was attacked and beaten by a large group of bullies a few months ago and subsequently tried to commit suicide. Even then, it was not enough to satisfy their animal meanness; they continued to bully her via social media saying they wished her first suicide attempt had worked. Finally the poor girl could no longer face her life knowing the emotional and physical torture was never going to stop. She finally ended her life earlier this week. And still that was not enough.
Many continued to write negative comments on memorial social media pages set up in her honour. They called her more names; they said she deserved what she got; they rejoiced at her death. And these are not all just teenagers with rage or angst issues either. Some of these people are grown adults who believe that none of the bullies is to blame and that Amanda—a sweet, young girl—deserved it and brought it on herself—classic blame-the-victim mentality. I want to ask these individuals, “What kind of people verbally beat a dead girl and her family?” I have tried to find an answer, but my mind still searches. This happens often enough that there has to be a reason, but try as I might, I cannot come up with one.
Sometimes, I just don’t understand people.