Crazy Will Always Be With Us

April 20, 2013

I need to step outside my usual persona of writing about programming to comment on the happenings of the past few days.

In Boston two brothers decided to blow up the Marathon, and an hour from my house half the city of West, Texas was blown to pieces in a massive explosion.

There have always been crazy people who for whatever reason decide to kill their family, their friends, their neighbors or even random strangers. They come from all walks of life, religion or not, every race or political viewpoint, people who seem ordinary for years but suddenly explode in violence. They do it because of hatred or fear or even for the thrill.

There is nothing you can do to avoid them, no place to go, no way to predict where they will appear and no magical formula exists to keep them at bay. If you are at the wrong place at the wrong time then you will meet them, but the chances are really very remote.

I refuse to be afraid and let fear change my life for the worse. Fearing the random crazy person is like fearing a random number. Since there is nothing you can do short of volunteering to fly to Mars there is little point in worrying about it.

The owners of the fertilizer plant in West reportedly told the Federal Government that they did not need safety equipment since they had no flammable materials. Yet the business ran next to a school, an apartment complex and a nursing home apparently not caring about the potential disaster that ultimately happened. This is another kind of crazy - putting people in danger who know nothing about it simply because you want to make more profit and not be bothered by caring about others. This craziness is far more worrying as it can be all around you for years and you aren't even aware.

The type of crazy that scares me the most however is people who think private profit is more important than public safety, and those who promise that if we give up our freedom they can protect us from the crazy people. This is crazy in the public eye and when it goes unchallenged it affects us all. No one can protect us from the random crazy person or group no matter how much they claim to: to believe them is pretty crazy as well. Yet we look to the government or the press or even our neighbors to look out for our safety for those things that aren't random and might even be common. When they fail us because of politics or greed or malice or cheapness or even laziness we all lose. Apparently looking out for public safety no longer matters to those whom we assume should care.

We all live in this world and hope to see a long life filled not with fear but joy. But crazy will continue to happen until our heads have chips in them and someone is always listening in - not something I would care for though. To fear the random act of violence is to avoid the potential for a random act of joy. To ignore the not so random potential for disasters is to create harm that we might never recover from. Seeing the pictures of the mostly flattened town of West (famous for its kolaches) is hard to believe.

There is a good kind of crazy, as celebrated by Apple's famous commercial campaign, but that's not what we saw this week in Boston and West. It's the random violent crazy that we can't allow to consume us, and the political or industrial crazy we can't allow to be ignored.