A 45 year-old construction worker agrees to help two young strangers retrieve their vehicle from a ditch in return for $20.
He fulfills his end of the bargain, asks for payment, and is promptly murdered; left like refuse on the roadside.
The wailing and gnashing of commentators has since focused on the perceived unpredictability of “feral youth” and the cruelty of a Good Samaritan slain. Both are non-productive trains of thought.
The behavior of violent criminal actors (VCAs) is entirely predictable if we will but see: they do not recognize any obligation to others and act only in furtherance of their own desires. The notion that a VCA would accept aid and then make good on his debt goes entirely against the values he has been steeped in since birth. His upbringing has shaped him to see the victim’s offer of aid as a clear signal of vulnerability, a sign that sealed the victim’s fate as surely as night follows day.
The true tragedy is that the victim’s goodwill was his undoing, rendering him incapable of seeing the circumstance as a threat, much less a lethal threat. In a classic example of projection, he most likely could not see his killers as killers because he could never even contemplate doing evil to anyone providing him assistance.
It is our task to see the world as it is, not as we are.
Our values, especially pro-social values, are not a beacon shining forth into the souls of others. Their light can, in fact, blind us to the harm that others would do us in sick pursuit dominance and power.