This entry is mostly a response to my daughter's blogging efforts.
I know a boy I will call Ishmael. Like all too many of today's youth he is selfish and thoughtlessly cruel. In the past he has had free reign to indulge his passions especially for sex and drugs. I have know few people who are more single minded about pursuing their own personal gains and pleasures.
Ishmael comes from a wealthy and influential family. Despite the damage he has done to his mind and other organs with drugs and alcohol; despite having done nothing much to earn it, Ishmael is destined to become a very wealthy and powerful man.
There is reason to hope that Ishmael will be better than his past. He has been through rehabilitation for his drug soaked, criminal past and succeeded very well. He even took on a position of leadership in which she showed compassion as well as leadership. When I last saw him he vowed that he was determined to lead a life free of drugs and wild living.
Maybe so. But, I am not so sure. I know lots of Ishamels. In too many cases they are able to change like chameleons to suit their surroundings in pursuit of even the most insignificant gains. Everyone in a rehabilitation program wants to get through it. Everyone longs for more freedom than they have. The Ishmaels of the world have spent their lives studying how to get exactly what they want. They can be consummate actors. They can be enormously patient. They can manipulate others in ways I hope my readers cannot imagine.
I hope Ishmael is deterred from further drug use by the fear of further damage to his body. Law and human institutions will not deter him from anything. He knows the system too well. He is too confident in his manipulation skills. If all else fails he knows that wealth and power will protect him. Despite the best efforts of many people, there is real potential for people like him to mature into monsters of epic proportions.
Ironically, Atheist that I am, I put my hope for the Ishamels of the world in God. It isn't that I want God to exist. I want God to exist in Ishmael's mind. I see no other force that will deter him from pure greed and cruelty. He knows with certainty that there is nothing natural he cannot work around. Maybe, he is not lying when he says he also believes in God. Maybe if he believes God is watching him that will deter him.