WASHINGOTN, D.C., February 16, 2013 — As children, we heard that “one man (or woman) can make a difference.” We were also taught to consider what we call, “Mom’s Rule,” which is simple and good advice: “What if everybody did it?”
We should look at both sayings together before acting to make a difference. Chris Dorner’s murderous rampage is a case in point.
Dorner, a former Marine and LAPD officer, felt that he had been discriminated against and that he had witnessed discrimination by members of the Los Angeles Police Department. He repeatedly brought his various grievances up the chain of command; as each was dismissed, he became more frustrated. His subsequent claims became less more erratic, more strident, easier to brush aside.
Dorner became a pariah in the department, increasingly isolated, increasingly angry ‒ until he was fired. The final rejection overwhelmed him. He snapped, wrote an unbelievable manifesto, and started carrying it out, targeting his “enemies” as well as their families, a tactic usually reserved to low-level thugs and governments. (True: Follow IRS actions against families in estate cases, or even do some research on Waco).
In his genesis from disturbed to dangerous, Dorner follows a path similar to that of Harris and Klebold of Columbine, though as an adult and a police officer, more should have been expected from Dorner.
One man can indeed make a difference. A terribly destructive, expensive, horrible difference. What Dorner proved was that one man can pin down an entire region, destroy the lives of several families, upturn the LAPD’s systems. One man can make a difference.
What Dorner also proved was that Mom’s Rule is an essential corollary. If everybody addressed individual problems by ignoring systems and taking their own paths, destroying every real or perceived threat, we would have nothing but chaos. Everyone would spend all his time protecting himself and his family, his possessions; no one would have time to be productive, altruistic, or artistic. Civilization would become collapse into brutality.
Only government officials, it seems, can run their lives (and everyone else’s) as if they alone know what is good. Detached from reality, insulated from the results of their faulty theories, government leaders can destroy, impede, tax, and shut down others, whenever they see a threat to their hegemony.
When the president doesn’t have a fully-compliant Congress, he threatens and commits administrative action to get it. The president spends his time rewarding constituent groups; “everybody” doesn’t figure into his calculus. Mom’s Rule is of no importance to him. Everything is about the President’s getting his way.
Dorner attacked and threatened those who wouldn’t listen to him, regardless the merits of his arguments. He was sworn to uphold the law, yet he took it into his own hands. Yes, he “made a difference,” temporarily; and the rule of law will heal, now that he’s gone. Our president, also sworn to uphold the law, does what he pleases, with or without Congressional approval, with or without Constitutional authority. When or whether the nation will heal from his lawlessness is anyone’s guess.
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