I've been playing with ways to explain mindsets, trying to find the doorways.
"We're a different breed," RC said. What does that mean? I see it, the functionality in certain times of stress and the way that that has changed our perspective on almost everything else. We are what we are, and we recognize each other. We also recognize those who don't comprehend this world we have lived in. Not only don't grasp it, the way a fish can't understand a rosebush, but think that they are experts, because they have heard so many fishy descriptions.
That's not it either. There is a compulsion to study this "different breed". Little boys play with guns and people study martial arts for decades, but neither of those are indicators that they have the slightest insight into the world they are imagining. The errors, the sometimes incomprehensible misbeliefs are stunning...and as viciously defended as any religious dogma.
People work from who they are. I get that. They strive to understand other people by extrapolating from who they are to who the other must be. (And, not germane to the main point they sometimes do this with breathtaking ignorance not only of the other but of themselves.)
They extrapolate from what they have experienced (social pain or shame) to what they haven't (fear of ego destruction and annihilation). They decide that the problem they have never dealt with (surviving an assault or international politics) is like problems they have dealt with (like algebra). That the skills to put a bullet in someone's head are the same as the skills to put a key in a lock.
I've failed to get people to understand so many times in so many ways. I know, intellectually, that they want two incompatible things: to understand something outside their experience and simultaneously to have all of their preconceptions confirmed. But I keep thinking there might be a way to bring them to the window. So that they can see. Not just see what I see, but so that they can recognize that there are different windows.
"What would you do if your children were starving?" may be a little step. Maybe not. I'm not confident that people who have never been truly hungry, or people who play at fasting as a diversion or who have never smelled someone starving can really understand the question... but maybe they can.
Who would steal? Who would beg? Who would demand and threaten? Who would kill? Kill an animal? Kill a human? Prostitute yourself? Others? Children? If the situation were never going to get better and no one, ever, was going to help you-- you could only help yourself-- what would you do? What would you get used to? Would you get better at thieving and robbing? Get better at killing? Come to terms with it? Turn it, in your head, into the right and noble thing to do? Not a crime, but taking a necessary risk? Would it become a way of life? Business as usual?
Do you recognize a particular kind of criminal here? Looking at it from our weird stories of emotional pain and angst, the behaviors of addicts don't track...