Life on Lavender Hill

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There’s an old saying, mostly heard in cartoons or radio dramas: “crime doesn’t pay.” Criminals always get caught, in the end. Justice always finds her man. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, especially if the crime is committed in a city where police are often over-worked and are forced to overlook certain crimes. Theft, for example, is often overlooked unless a significant amount of money – five-hundred or more dollars – is involved. Small break ins, even stolen cars, are often written off as losses, without much concern from law enforcement. The effort to find and prosecute the thieves costs far more money and man-power than the lost goods are worth.

But there is another way to look at crime. If you’ve ever struggled with suicidal thoughts, you may have wondered if it might not be better, instead of killing yourself, to try a desperate grab for a life-changing sum of money. This, certainly, would “pay”. Even if unsuccessful, it would temporarily stave off suicide at least long enough for the heist. And afterwards, either you’d be caught (in which case suicide can always be an option again) or you’d succeed, in which case…but, uh oh. Here we quickly run into another problem.

Supposing you’re successful and now have a substantial sum of money at your command. It was successfully laundered and re-inserted into your legitimate grasp. Even then, would the crime have “paid”?

Well. That’s the problem, isn’t it? Life, even in that scenario, would be just as meaningless. There are different ways to commit suicide after all. One man may prefer the rope or shotgun, another man may prefer a life-time of hedonistic, pointless, bliss. But both equally end a man’s life. In light of this, then, the crime – even if it’s successful – doesn’t “pay”. It only allows for a greater latitude of suicide options.

No…there’s only one context in which crime ever “pays”, and that’s if it’s done to hurt and weaken an enemy, while strengthening yourself. But this is a far cry from suicide. Even if it’s a deadly game and puts the criminal’s life in danger – it’s philosophically different from suicide. The suicidal criminal wants to end his life in a string of hedonistic pleasures, while the crusading criminal is acting on behalf of something (or someone) he loves.

There aren’t any of that type in the world, anymore though.

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