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A Cycle of Injustice
[October 10, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

Last week in Milwaukee, a 14 year-old teenager threw an egg at a man. The man in turn struck the teenager for throwing it, knocking out the teenager's tooth with the force of his hit. Other teenagers fought back against the man, a mob formed and the man was beaten to his death.

Appropriately, the teenagers that formed that mob are now being held accountable before the law. But as we hold these youths accountable for their actions, one can only wonder how far back we have to go to discover the real source of tragedy. What came before the egg? Why did the first teenager feel compelled to strike an innocent man? Why was the man's initial reply to the teenager so disproportionate that he knocked out the teenager's tooth? Why did a gang of teenagers then take the man's life in revenge of a tooth?

The obvious reason was no one involved made the effort consider their own interest and no one involved made the effort to consider what the other honestly deserved. The teenager attacked the man, without cause or provocation. Despite no real danger to himself and instead of calling the police, the man attacked the teenager in reply. Then, a group of teenagers murdered the man as their reply to him.

Is self-interest so alien a concept that undeserved violence against others seems justified? Is the courtroom the only place where people are concerned about justice?

Left to their own devices, the teenagers thought they were in their rights. So too for the man who was murdered. Barely beyond childhood, or acting as if they were children, they all lacked the wisdom needed to chose a course other than their own self-destruction.

Now all have either given up their lives, or had their lives taken from them. It’s enough to make you stop and shudder.


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