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Reform Magazine | December 15, 2017

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People like us

People like us

We did it in private. Didn’t we? It seemed easy to conceal. We regretted it, because we were caught and shamed.

Part of us disliked what we were doing, but another part dived in.

We broke the law, but in a way we felt was generally tolerated.

We started when we were feeling stressed and depressed, and curious.

We had moral boundaries – but they turned out not to be where we thought they were. What was once out of bounds became a habit.

It felt acceptable. Others did the same thing.

We stopped. But slipped back into it.

We are, in other words, exactly the same kind of people as “Tom”, who speaks eloquently in The Independent about the behaviour that landed him on the sex offenders register for downloading sexual images of underage teenagers.

It struck me reading it that, while our preferences and weaknesses may (or may not) be different from his, every single moral decision or process he described was utterly familiar from my own life, and, if you’ll pardon the leap to conclusions, yours as well.

The details of the damage done vary, but we are fundamentally the same kind of people. We are all both victim and perpetrator of the universal human habit of breaking.

How reassuring it would be if we could stick a label on the evil people to differentiate them from ourselves, put them all in a boat and send them off to some other place. But there is only one boat, and we’re all in it.

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