Imagine that you have a crotchety neighbor, Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones is a very cranky man, and he has all sorts of complaints about you. Your house is too close to his property line, your dog is always in his yard, your children are too loud when they play outside. You can’t do anything about the house, but you do your best to work out the other issues with him.
Now imagine that Mr. Jones has chosen a course of action to satisfy his anger at you. Everyday, when you pull into your driveway, Mr. Jones stands on his front porch and takes pot shots at you with his shotgun as you attempt to enter your front door.
Of course, nobody would put up with this for very long. But Mr. Jones is a poor shot, so you let it go. At least, until you caught some shot in the leg. That was when you called the police. In fact, you called the police everyday for nearly two weeks.
The first time they showed up, they just stood in the front yard and watched as Mr. Jones shot at you.
The next time, they decided that you and Mr. Jones should sit down and talk. After all, the only way to end this was to have you both work out your grievances and come to an equitable solution. And after the talks, Mr. Jones has agreed to stop shooting at you.
His wife, however, made no such agreement. So the next day, when you return home, Mrs. Jones is out on the porch, blasting away. When the police show up, they try to talk to Mr. Jones about this, but he says, “Hey, you wanted me to stop shooting, so I did! What do you want me to do about the wife?” The police just try to get the Jones to talk to each other and agree to stop shooting. However, with his wife refusing to cease, Mr. Jones decides it’s okay for him to start shooting again.
This time, however, they also decide they’ll shoot at your wife when she returns home, as well as your children as they walk back from the bus stop.
You call the police, but the process continues in the same way. They keep shooting, the police just try to coax out promises to stop.
You ask the neighbors to help, but all they offer are solutions and platitudes which seem silly and absurd. “Are you addressing the root causes of his violence towards you?” “If you’d just stop calling the police, they’d stop shooting at you.” “If you can’t move your house, let him have part of your back yard, or maybe the room that’s closest to his property.” “Mr. Jones is just jealous of your success. If you’d just help him achieve the same, he would be too wealthy to care about shooting at you.”
The police won’t help, the neighbors won’t listen . . . what are you to do?