This piece about Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit, fascinating.
Following his arrest, the court of public opinion was deeply divided. The man who wanted to live his life as invisibly as possible had become one of the most famous people in Maine. You could not walk into a bar in the Augusta area without stumbling into a debate about what should be done with Christopher Knight.
Some said that he must immediately be released from jail. Stealing cheese and bacon are not serious crimes. The man was apparently never violent. He didn't carry a weapon. He's an introvert, not a criminal. He clearly has no desire to be a part of our world. Let's open a Kickstarter, get him enough cash for a few years' worth of groceries, and allow him to go back to the woods. Some people were willing to let him live on their land, rent-free.
Others countered that it wasn't the physical items he robbed that made his crimes so disturbing—he stole hundreds of people's peace of mind. Their sense of security. How were they supposed to know Knight wasn't armed and dangerous? Even a single break-in can be punishable by a ten-year sentence. If Knight really wanted to live in the woods, he should've done so on public lands, hunting and fishing for food. He's nothing but a lazy man and a thief times a thousand. Lock him up in the state penitentiary.
"I don't know your world," he said. "Only my world, and memories of the world before I went into the woods. What life is today? What is proper? I have to figure out how to live." He wished he could return to his camp—"I miss the woods"—but he knew by the rules of his release that this was impossible. "Sitting here in jail, I don't like what I see in the society I'm about to enter. I don't think I'm going to fit in. It's too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia."
I think this pattern maps onto myself in interesting ways, and I wonder what others think about it.