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Heroes in their own eyes

April 25, 2019

When reading about the Sri Lanka suicide bombers, one of whom had such normal interaction with a child just before walking into the church he destroyed, or about Larry Hopkins, the militia leader detaining migrants, who epitomizes MAGA, the thing to keep in mind is that these people are heroes in their own eyes. They believe they are doing good. They think they are sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. They each are the Luke Skywalker of their mind’s internal epic, that defines the world in which they live.

It would be convenient if the terrorists and bad guys all were psychopaths. Most aren’t. Fritz Breithaupt’s forthcoming book on the dark side of human empathy might be an interesting read. As a recent NPR article reflects, we poorly understand such basic human emotions, how they interact with culture, and how they change over time.

The diagram shows the travels of wolves in Voyageurs National Park, each wolf colored according to its pack.

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