What I dreaded most about a recent, horrendous crime was confirmed by a Washington Post columnist today. I had so hoped that I was wrong.
The gist: two females at a high-end suburban store got into a fight that ended in murder. One was the manager and the other was an employee who had been caught stealing. It was a very noisy, bloody fight that lasted for quite a while and only ended with the manager's gruesome death.
This high-end store is in a shopping mall and shares a wall with another store whose employees were also working late. They heard everything, including screams for help and did a b s o l u t e l y n o t h i n g.
I cannot imagine what was going through their heads as they listened to terrified screams and pleas for help through the wall. It's not as if their lives were in danger. So why didn't they call 911? Not one of them has offered an answer to that question.
It's been about 50 years since Kitty Genovese was repeatedly stabbed outside of her apartment complex in NY. People watched and listened to her screams from their windows yet did nothing to help her.
If we all maintain an attitude of not wanting to get involved what is to stop criminals or sociopaths from harming others? With the 911 system, it's so easy to simply pick up a phone, dial the number and report anything suspicious. It's easy and necessary and can be anonymous!
I still live with my shame of several years ago. We had a neighbor who had recently separated from his wife. They had two sons, one of whom was 3 or 4 years old. We often heard shouted telephone conversations between our neighbor and his estranged wife through our bedroom wall.
When the younger boy came to visit his father for a weekend, the parents got into a tug-of-war over him on the side walk. The father had the boys torso and the mother was pulling on his legs. Both were shouting at each other and the boy was hysterical.
Having heard this man berate and curse his wife, I was afraid of him, so I tortured myself hoping that they would realize what they were doing and stop. After several minutes of their ugly scene, I looked up the number for Child Protective Services and called them. The man who answered advised me to call the police, but by then the parents had left the scene.
Helping someone in trouble doesn't always require endangering your own life. Police are trained to handle all sorts of gnarly situations, but they have to be alerted to them to do anything.
I would hope that if I were in a scary situation someone would come to my rescue or, at least notify the police. I have to live with my slow actions but I won't repeat them. If I see or hear something untoward, I won't hesitate to notify authorities. We are, after all, our brother's keeper.