In prison, I was witness to the ease with which people hate, and how casually they do harm to one another. One cannot help but be affected by that. More than anything, it confused me. Finally, one day something clicked. See, occasionally the guards would come in and do something mean or hateful, for no reason. Like, say, ripping up correspondence from a loved one. It basically amounted to poking us with a stick. Maybe it was a method of control - a way of keeping us off-balance. Maybe they were just bored. But you could always tell who the new inmates were, because they would always ask the guards "why". The answer was so consistent, that I came to believe that it was actually a part of their training. Their response was always, "Because we can."
When you get down to it, that's really the only reason. Circumstance, or in some cases, authority, gives someone the opportunity, and some take it. There are always rationalizations and justifications later, of course. But while it's happening, it's a base, mindless thing. It's then that the differences between the good guys and the bad guys tend to evaporate.
For months afterward, I was depressed. These were people who had jobs, drove cars, raised children? Why should I want to join those whose only claim to good citizenship was the ability to follow a few simple rules? I thought about finding a hole someplace to spend the rest of my days in.
Luckily, there are good people out there. I'm lucky enough to count some of them as friends, and all of them as family.. I still believe that most people are hard-working decent folks, just trying to do the best they can. Am I ever wrong? Sometimes with a frequency that is downright spectacular. But if my only choices were to become part of the darkness, or be a victim of it, I'd choose the latter.
Of course, nominally, one should avoid both.
It's my hope that John was lucky enough to surround himself with enough people who cared.