Sometimes we need to stop for a moment and reflect. This commentary is focused on markets and the people who make them, but circumstances require something deeper today.
The horrors inflicted upon the children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday both are both repugnant and mesmerizing. We are repelled by the brutality, but curious about what could have motivated such cruelty. Over the weekend I found myself repeatedly drawn to the news only to turn away in disbelief and disgust.
But people have been facing such tragedies ever since the first murder (although not on this scale). Our hearts cry out to understand how such things are possible. A hundred years ago the writer Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness, where he uses a river journey into central Africa as an extended metaphor about the darkness within every human heart. And we’ve seen this—in Norway, on 9/11, in the atrocities of the 20th century—some individuals become unhinged and commit unspeakably heinous acts.
Conrad writes that we may start out with dreams of commerce, or fame, or adventure, but often end up unintentionally exploiting everything around us. Whether we misuse nature, or science, or other people, what begins well-intentioned becomes bent and twisted. Another 20th century writer has noted that the line between good and evil runs not between nations or parties, but through the middle of every human heart.
So we rely on institutions and each other to restrain our nature and draw out what is good. Sometimes these fail. The genius of our society is we adapt and move on. But after this heart-wrenching story let’s remember to care.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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