“While most of the city [Port-Au-Prince] of 3 million people focused on clearing the streets of debris and puling bodies out of the rubble, there were pockets of violence and anarchy, reports of looting and ransacking, and at least one lynching of an accused looter as police officers stood aside. Both impulses – the theft and the vigilante response – were borne out of desperation.” (1).
I italicized the last sentence in the quote because it is an example of motive-focus, i.e. an example of compassionate analysis of human action with the emphasis on motivation, not behavior, which is so rare in front-page journalism as we tend to sensationalize rather than analyze.
We are all motivationally innocent. There are no socially unacceptable motives (what’s socially unacceptable about desperation?), just socially unacceptable behaviors.
Read more: Compassion Series
Looting Flares as Authority Breaks Down, by Simon Romero & Marc Lacey (The New York Times, Jan. 17th, 2010)
Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is the author of "Eating the Moment" (New Harbinger, 2008), "Present Perfect" (NH, 2010), and "The Lotus Effect" (NH, 2010). He is in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit www.eatingthemoment.com