In case you didn’t know, Mary Shelley is the author who penned Frankenstein back in 1818, albeit when it was originally published, it was done so anonymously. The concept I’m about to cover is one I pan to write a novel talking about because I think it’s incredibly relevant to the way we treat each other today.
What do I mean by Mary Shelley was right? Well, the whole idea behind Frankenstein is that a man created a monster and that’s what I mean. We don’t have crazy zombie men seven feet tall in real life. We don’t have boogeymen or werewolves, vampires or swamp things, but that doesn’t mean monsters exist and if we ever plan to find them in real life, we have to examine the way we treat people because the corruption of man is what creates the biggest monsters in society.
Recently I read Panzram: A Journal of Murder by Thomas E. Gaddis. This was a nonfiction book that mixed the letters and journal entries from one of America’s most notorious criminals and biographical narrative from people who knew and studied him. Carl Panzram committed a lot of crimes while he was alive. For the majority of his life, he was in and out of prison, mostly because he’d escape and get caught for something else while he was running free. Some of the things he was best known for are grand larceny, arson (especially of churches), the murder of at least 22 people, and the rape of 1,000+ men and boys.
You can look at his resume and fantastic quotes like: “I believe the only way to reform people is to kill them,” and “I made up my mind that I would rob, burn, destroy, and kill everywhere I went and everybody I could as long as I lived,” and think this guy was nothing but a sociopathic monster.
I heard these quotes, I heard about his resume and I wanted to know why he ended up this way. Why did he say, “I don’t believe in man, God nor Devil. I hate the whole damned human race, including myself. I prey upon the weak, the harmless and the unsuspecting.”
Something had to happen to him to make him so hopeless, so angry, so resentful… and as you read the book, you understand what happened to him. What happened to Panzram sort of echoes what I was saying earlier when I talked about societies treatment of incels.
What’s important to note about Panzram is he never found compassion on this earth. As a child, his parents abused and neglected him. He went to a Lutheran school where he was beaten by his teachers who used the scripture to justify outrageous punishments. He joined the U.S. Army at 16, where he was then sent to military prison and abused by the U.S. government. After breaking the law, he was abused at almost every prison he was held in by correctional officers with a sadistic side.
After taking years of abuse and neglect as a child, Panzram finally ran away from home in his early teens. He robbed and jumped trains to travel around. One of the first things you hear about his travels is how he met these guys on the train, and they spoke for a while and had pleasant conversation, but once the train got moving, the three larger, older men raped him. Young Panzram had put his trust in these strangers only to be abused again.
As you hear his story, you also hear the justification he made for himself on why he became a monster. He said: “This lesson I was taught by others: Might makes right.”
I disagreed with George Saunders a few weeks back when he said we must be kind to everyone. We mustn’t be kind to everyone. However, we must be kind to children and more than that, we must be compassionate to children. The way we treat children, whether our own or someone else’s, will shape how they grow. Humans create monsters by the way we treat each other. We instill values in people when they’re young and enforce those values when they’re older.
There was only one man that Panzram didn’t hate to the very core of his being and this man was a guard at one of the prisons Panzram stayed at. The guard gave Panzram a dollar to purchase something he wanted and Panzram asked what the catch was. When the guard told him there was no catch, the dollar was just his, Panzram cried. He had never been shown kindness or compassion in his life. That small gesture and Panzram’s reaction showed the reason for his view on life and his view on humanity.
There will always be evil in this world. There will be people we can’t help, monsters too buried in darkness, hate, and hopelessness to pull out, but we don’t have to keep making them. We can learn from the past and treat people better. We can recognize the struggle and help people to their feet rather than kicking them while they’re down and I think until people learn to stop being so selfish as to use insulting others as a ladder to climb (as the media is doing to incels, or as feminists are doing by demonizing men, or as the progressives are doing to white people). As long as you treat people like monsters, you will beat the compassion out of them and then, when it comes time that they crack, they will show no compassion to you.