What’s happened to us?
Recently, a report concerning a man being shot at a convenience store gained headlines. No, not (sadly) because being shot in front of a convenience store in-and-of-itself was unusual, but rather due to the behavior of the customers who subsequently WALKED OVER his body, in the doorway:
I thought this must be some sort of unthinkably sick prank, until I read the following account. It seems that this actually occurred back in 2012, and we’re only seeing the video now because the shooter is on trial:
(via The UK Daily Mail) – “…Shocking surveillance footage shows the moment that a man who had been shot was stepped over by customers at a convenience store. Jheryl Wright, 31, was fatally shot in September 2012 as he left a shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
As Mr Wright lay dying, customers and clerks at the store ignored him for almost five minutes, some even callously stepping over his body.
» In the disturbing images, two men leave the store, look down at the man’s body and walk on.
» The store clerk peers over the counter at the shooting victim – but does nothing.
» Another customer steps over the body twice as he leaves and then re-enters the store.
» After about five minutes, a man comes into the shop, sees that the man is clearly seriously injured and makes a call on his cell phone.
Horrific? Yeah, and then some. How could anyone, ANYONE, ignore a person who was so obviously, blatantly in dire need of assistance?
This story is remarkably similar to the Parable of the Good Samaritan (LUKE 10: 25-37), the obvious difference being that this time around, we were minus the Samaritan. But before you dismiss this whole tale as some isolated occurrence, or even as a Sunday School parable, be aware that this is not even close to a singular event.
But why? What sort of unfeeling creeps have we become?
Or worse: have we always been this way?
Last summer, I wrote a post that detailed my own experience with a slightly less tragic example of this. A woman’s car had died, stranding her (and her three very young children) in a hot vehicle, in the middle of traffic on a busy shopping mall exit road. By the time I drove up, she’d been there for 45 minutes…and somehow I was still the first person to offer assistance.
My personal take on this is that our society is no longer teaching common, basic social expectations to our children: courteousness, gratitude, empathy, right-and-wrong. Too many kids today can’t begin to list all of the Ten Commandments, yet they’ll happily click on the “TEN Most Outrageous Cat Pictures EVER” on Buzzfeed or Facebook, every time.
This is learned behavior, and they’ve learned it terrifyingly well. But anything that one generation can learn, the next one can unlearn. And that knowledge, knowing that this is indeed “learned”, allows me to …hope.
I stopped to help that woman because I’d been trained pretty much since birth that THAT was what you DID, period. Far from being a big deal, it was merely the baseline expectation for everyone where I was raised, male or female. And the folks teaching me were not only my parents: they were my neighbors, my older co-workers, my friends, and my teachers.
In short, it was pretty much everyone.
But now, today, things are different. People are terrified of lawsuits, of retribution, of “getting involved”. I certainly understand the fear, but if we give into it, if we hide and cower from the world, …then we’re doomed: figuratively now, and quite literally later on.
Since it’s blizzard weather, ask yourself: if someone’s stuck in the snow, do we simply drive around them, muttering something about them learning how to drive? Or do we get out and try to free them, or at least roll down our window and offer to help?
Do we and/or our children shovel the driveway for the elderly person in our neighborhood, knowing they can’t do it themselves? Are we saying “Hello!” or “Good Morning!” mechanically, or are we greeting people with an honest smile in our hearts? If there’s someone whom we know spends a lot of time alone (no family, divorced, or whatever), have we invited them to dinner? Not just at Thanksgiving, mind you: anytime, even if we can’t cook and it’s only for pizza?
We are each called to be the “Good Samaritan”, although merely being the Halfway Decent Samaritan would be a marked improvement sometimes.
And if we each made a commitment to not only do this in our own lives but to also try to teach this to the next generation, there just might be enough of us to bring some civility back to our neighborhoods and streets. Yet no matter how many of us there are, we are called to try.
‘Cause if we don’t, we probably shouldn’t expect too much when it’s us bleeding in the doorway…