Religion has the habit of being in the judgment game. People who act in one way are seen as good, people who act in another way are seen as bad. Such thinking reflects a profound inability to separate person from behavior, however, and the truth is that we are more than the sum or our behavior.
It’s easy for rural and suburban people to fall into the trap of believing that habitual criminals, petty thieves, drug dealers, gang members and others are people who choose to break the law and hurt other people without a reason. The problem with those kind of beliefs is that they really posit that there are two different kinds of people: people like me who simply choose to do things the right way and people who don’t. Such believes posit a level playing field; economic equality; and equal opportunity in education, employment, and family history. The only way it is possible to maintain such distorted perceptions of reality is to remain isolated in one’s own environment, never visiting the reality of people whose opportunities and histories are very different from ours.
With the exception of sociopaths, the truth is that nobody wants to do the “wrong” thing. That having been said, almost anyone who is faced with their children not having enough to eat or a place to live finds a way to do what is necessary. Someone who can’t find a job will find a way to make money, especially if they live in an area where job opportunities are scarce and unlikely to change anytime soon. Our institutions and infrastructure only serve to make things worse – particularly when public transportation is limited. When our pain gets bad enough, we will find a way to deaden it so that we can simply tolerate living.
If there are “bad” people in this reality, it’s those who perpetuate the injustice, limit access to employment and health care, take funding from education and food programs in order to give tax breaks to the wealth and corporations. In fact, the really bad people are the ones pointing and the victims of their own economic policy and calling them bad.