I’m sure many of you have had the same misfortune as I to have repeal seen the video of young men beating a homeless person to death with baseball bats on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale. Two of the assailants are now in custody and a third has been identified and has fled the state. What, may you ask, caused these three young men to do such a thing?

Would they have done the same thing to their fathers or brothers? I guess it is possible but I some how doubt it. They felt less restrained because the man was homeless. Disheveled and possibly mentally ill, the man probably hadn’t bathed in awhile. He also wasn’t considered an equal. Yet none of these things will be acceptable excuses when the young men face a judge.
But these men are not an anomaly. The National Coalition for the homeless has reported that over 105 homeless men were killed in 1999. The majority of the attackers were between the ages of 16 and 25.
Society has not exactly set a glowing example. Whenever a prosecutor seeks the death penalty, or when a governor signs a death warrant the defendant is often referred to as a monster, not fit to live. When we go to war we demonize our adversaries making them evil or somehow not as good as we are. It makes it so much easier to kill them and if we kill their children as well…so what?
Our politicians, religious leaders, media and parents have to all work together to change the culture of violence that engulfs our society. It starts with instilling a sense of empathy and a healthy respect for others who are different from us. From the looks of things we sure have our work cut out for us.