Bad Thoughts/Greenwood/Sat Dec 16/11:40 am: Officer Johnson reports: "The suspect is a long-term resident of [the home]. He is confined to a motorized wheelchair. The victim is his caregiver, who was in the room assisting him. The victim stated the suspect grabbed his right arm, scratched it, and then punched him in the ribs with a closed fist. The victim then left the room. The supervising nurse came into the victim's room and interviewed him. The suspect suddenly rammed into the supervising nurse with his wheelchair. The supervising nurse left the room with a bruised knee and called 911."

We need not know the exact reason why the man in the wheelchair got angry and started hurting his helpers. An exact reason couldn't stand on its own as the real explanation for the suspect's aggression, which, under these conditions (a nursing home), can be activated by any thing, any gesture, any amount of pressure. A change in the room temperature could get him started. The sudden sound of a flushing toilet could explode him into a mess of spittle and vile words. Whatever it be (sad eyes, a smile, a twitch of a nurse's mustache), the man in the wheelchair will use it to ignite his fuse. Why is he so volatile? Because he lives in a suffocating atmosphere of pity. Everyone feels sorry for him, wants to help him, to open the door for him. The man in the wheelchair is powerless, and those who pity him are exerting their soft form of power on him.

Every morning, the man in the wheelchair is faced with two choices: One, give in and accept the situation, accept the charity of those who can walk on their own; two, give this stifling situation no peace and frustrate, mock, physically hurt those who offer him assistance. So far, the man in the report has rejected peace for war. "How dare that cripple punch me! I was trying to help him, the ungrateful bastard," says the nurse in his mind, as he stumbles out of the room. "That little spineless fucker. He hit me with the wheelchair I helped purchase with state funds," says the supervising nurse in her mind, as she stumbles out of the room with the bruised leg. The man in the wheelchair knows these are their thoughts (their bad thoughts), and by forcing them into this ugly corner, forcing them to think bad things of him, which is the last thing these good people want to do—curse a man who is confined to a wheelchair—from this he draws his wicked power.

Support The Stranger

If you pity him, he will force hate to come out of that pity. To be hated is much better than to be pitied. And whereas pity is always low-down, always ignoble, hate has the honor of sharing the same emotional realm and register as love.

charles@thestranger.com