Last night my son was attacked by three strangers. Three strangers, fuelled by drugs and alcohol, intent on robbing him of the money they knew was in his cab; indifferent as to whether they took his life in the attempt. He’s OK. Bit bruised, bit shaken, bit ashamed at the success he had fighting them off, when the survival instinct finally kicked in. That’s not what I want to talk about.
What prompted the post, was the fact that the attack occurred in a well lit area of the city. What prompted the post, was the fact that the area was busy with shoppers going about their business. What prompted the post, was the fact that not a single one of them came to his assistance, as his assailants punched and kicked him in the ribs and in the head. What really prompted the post, REALLY prompted the post, was the fact that not a single one of them could even be bothered to call the police.
I understand, completely, why they may all shy away (make that run away, for that is, indeed, what the security footage shows) from intervening on behalf of a stranger. But to not take a moment to consider calling for professional assistance seems so utterly remote from what it is to be human, that it is entirely beyond my comprehension.
Yet, perhaps, given the increasing indifference exhibited in the face of human and animal suffering in our communities, and around the world, I am simply overly naive to believe that, when faced with violence on our own doorstep, we may want to take some action. Any action. But NOTHING at all?!?
Can it really be a nonchalant acceptance of violence as an everyday occurrence? Did they get home without some pang of guilt? Did they sleep soundly, or did they find themselves restless, wondering if the guy they saw attacked tonight survived? What reaction would they like to see from others in the event that they found themselves outnumbered, on the ground, terrified and fearing their own survival?
Tonight, I am tired. More than that, I am afraid. Afraid of the indifference that we, as a species, appear to have embraced. Not just towards violence. Not just towards the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised. Not just towards other species, the planet, our fellow Man. But that greater indifference. The one that removes us from self, denies empathy, and drives us further from the source of what defines our very humanity.
Something has to change.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll have found the space to allow them to heal.