Art and Life

I just finished reading “A Christmas Carol” and “The Chimes”, two long short stories by Charles Dickens. While money is seemingly a focal point in both stories, the theme of the stories are much deeper. Dickens is speaking on how we allow ourselves to get caught up in money (or lack thereof) and no longer care about our fellow-man. I find that both stories are still relevant in our current society–over 150 years later.

I, just yesterday, read two Washington Post articles (links to similar articles arefound below) where people knew that someone was being harmed, yet did nothing in their power to help.

The first story is possibly familiar to you, especially if you live in the Washington, DC area. The Lululemon case, where a young woman killed her coworker and tried to make the scene of the crime appear as though they were both molested/raped and kidnapped.

The article noted that her death may have been prevented if the employees at the Apple store next door would have responded to the cries for help, screams, and grunts that lasted a whole 5 minutes. They even listened through the walls to decide if the screams they heard were real. Instead of calling the police or alerting the security guard who was in the store with them, they ignored the screams.

The next article involved a two year-old being run over by multiple cars in China while people completely ignored her laying in the street–I saw the video, it is enough to make you cry. It wasn’t as though the little girl was hit over by two speeding cars–no–in fact, the first car that hit her stopped with the back tire just over her body, and then slowly drove over her. Next, we see her laying in the street, while cars drive past, and even a grown man walks right by her body. All before the second car comes and runs her over for the second time. Finally, a woman–who was digging through nearby trash–comes and removes the little girl from the street. The entire time I watched with tears in my eyes, I wanted to jump into the computer screen to shake these people and scream at them. Make them SEE that baby girl they were killing by proxy.

These stories are not nearly as uncommon as you would think.

We have no sympathy–and damn sure no empathy–for the people around us. If you think that someone is even remotely hurt(ing), why not help? Is it so much of an inconvenience that a simple phone call to 911 is too much to help a screaming neighbor? If you watch your neighbors die, who will be left to help you?

Humans are becoming automatons. Perfectly okay to live within our own heads, in our own lives, at the cost of others. Yet we don’t mind extending our compassion to electronics and valuables. Things that are both replaceable and material where lives are not–and which also allow us to stay within our little boxes. I’ve seen more tears cried at the loss of a laptop than at a funeral.

I am not suggesting that you run towards the situation, don’t go knocking on a door if you hear screams–your life is valuable too, and horror movies aren’t necessarily that unrealistic. I am suggesting, though, that you take the time out to call the police if you think someone could be harmed. Better that you called in a false report than caused someone else’s death by lack of action. Pick the little girl out of the street. Stop ignoring people who could use your help–or even your guidance.

“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

– Anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller


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