Evidence of Society's Deterioration

in #society3 months ago


The above image was made by @amberjyang using Midjourney with the prompt 'a mystical hatchet in an earth tone urban backdrop in Uptown Minneapolis.'

Something disturbing happened in my Minneapolis neighborhood recently. Just after sunset a few days ago, my friend Patrick was walking near his apartment when he passed a masked man on the sidewalk. As he passed, the man hit him in the back of the head with the blunt side of a hatchet. The force of the blow threw Patrick into a nearby fence. Turning around, he recognized the attacker and pulled down his mask. "Fuck off, Richie," said Patrick, whereupon Richie left the scene quickly.

Patrick is fortunately alright. He filed a police report and his head injury wasn't serious enough to warrant a hospital stay. Even so, the situation is concerning. I consider it evidence of society's deterioration.

I've known Richie for many years, but we haven't talked since the pandemic turned our city upside down. He's an educated man who struggled as a writer. When Richie got into trouble with the law, I wrote a character reference letter for him. When he was struggling to find work, I got him a job with a landscaping company, which he quit after one day. When he was trying to be a writer, I gifted him a functional laptop, which immediately vanished, presumably sold for beer money. And throughout our acquaintance, I bummed him cigarettes and loaned him small amounts of cash when I could afford it.

Richie isn't a young man. He's at least a decade older than me. Now he's apparently out trying to mug people with a hatchet. The whole thing is troubling. Is the once respectable Richie just a mugger now, roaming the neighborhood with a hatchet? Or was his attack of Patrick an isolated incident? Both options are very dystopian.

I worry that deteriorating socioeconomic conditions drove Richie to violent crime. He didn't steal any money from Patrick, yet I assume a financial motive for the attack. How many others like him are slipping through our economy's cracks? Maybe some. Maybe many.

Desperate people make terrible decisions. And we're in an era that manufactures desperation. Tent cities are proliferating in urban areas. Street crime is commonplace. All of this is only going to get worse until we fix poverty.

It's easier to fall into poverty than to climb out of it. Rents are high and wages are low. Competition is fierce for desirable jobs. Plus, if the economy was a game of musical chairs, the music would've stopped in 2020. Not everyone found a spot in the new order when the dust settled.

And now my old friend Richie has become a public safety hazard. There may be many others like him out there, willing to do violence to passersby. They're symptomatic of systemic problems we've so far chosen not to address. We could relieve the economic pressure squeezing the underclass by overhauling the tax code and establishing a Universal Basic Income, but instead we squeeze the underclass more and more tightly. I doubt we'll like the result.

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I'm really glad Patrick is okay. And hopefully Richie will be too. It's amazing how we live in a society that hears social justice rhetoric everywhere, but nothing improving or getting better for anyone in need.

Same. Yeah it's a sad state of affairs.

That’s crazy
I’m happy that Patrick is doing good. Don’t you think Richie may need to visit a rehab center? I feel it is not normal to start hitting passers by
It is really crazy

Yes Richie may need help, but I don't know the situation well enough to say if a rehab center would be best.

I worry that deteriorating socioeconomic conditions drove Richie to violent crime

There are plenty of people in dire straits that don't hit people on the head with the back of a hatchet. There is no conditions based justification for that. Your former friend is a psychotic asshole.

Fair enough. Maybe he was always a menace and maybe he became a menace more recently. I heard him threaten violence in a half-joking manner several times over the years. Crossing the line from there to actually attacking people may have happened spontaneously, within his character. But I also think environment could have played a part.

Yes, his choices are his own. But I doubt he would have done it if he didn't think he could get away with it. And he wouldn't have thought he could get away with it in my neighborhood five years ago. But 2020 emboldened criminals and they remain emboldened. Now, instead of couch surfing and looking for weed, people like Richie are out doing violence. I guess I wonder about the social implications of that.

Agreed, I hope the police report leads to an arrest and conviction. There's an easy window to the past to look through. Cities, even Minneapolis, were considered (and were) more dangerous/lawless in the past. Just look at where people thought NYC could devolve to in Escape From New York. Minneapolis, and probably many where leadership have encouraged criminals more than police, will slide in that direction. Hopefully not as bad as the everyone-grew-up-sniffing-lead-exhaust-fumes era.