Today, I Lost My Faith in Humanity

October 2, 2007 | 91 comments
By

“Bert” came into our lives his senior year in high school, after a torturous journey through adolescence and a broken home. He now attends a small college in northern Ohio – and he had the following experience yesterday. He gave his permission for me to share it with all of you. (I made slight editing changes to make it acceptable for this forum and to hide the exact location.)

——————————————————————————————-
Today, I lost my faith in humanity.

Seriously. What is wrong with you #$^@*^#%@ people? Today, I was walking home, and found a dead man on the street.

A dead man.

A &*#^$*^##$*^ DEAD GUY – SHOT FIVE TIMES – FIVE! and left to lie on the sidewalk of a highway overpass. Rigor mortis and mottling had already set in, considering the man was lying in a pool of his own blood.

He appeared to be about 50-60 years old – a homeless man, gutshot on the sidewalk. When I bent over to check his vitals, I noticed about 10 cars drive past me. Not a single person stopped. Not a single person called 911. He’d been there for hours, apparently.

What is wrong with the world? How can you just not care THAT MUCH? I waited about 10 minutes for an ambulance, had the police ask me questions, and everybody just had an air of indifference about them. It was disgusting.

The man had no family – no ID – no way of knowing who he was. Just another unfortunate homeless man, I assume. There was something almost frighteningly beautiful about attending the “funeral” of a man with no name, waiting next to his body in the autumn chill. The epitome of macabre.

Please remember that your lives aren’t the most important thing in the universe. Other people are just as worthwhile as you are. Please remember, before it’s too late.

Before we have another empty funeral.

Before there’s another man with no name.

—————————————————————————————–

“The natural man is an enemy to God.” I am SO proud of you, son, for being the peculiar young man you are. When I see what you have overcome, I re-discover my faith in humanity.

91 Responses to Today, I Lost My Faith in Humanity

  1. Dan on October 2, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    “Bert” comes from a broken home? He didn’t lose his faith in humanity in this situation. He lost it long ago when his broken home first became broken.

    I’m really trying hard to understand why Bert is so angry at the world around him for not rushing to take care of a dead man, one dead for a few days. His soul has already gone off to the world of the dead. His body is degenerating back into Mother Earth. If Bert should be angry at anyone it should be at this dead man’s family and friends. Surely he had SOMEONE. The people driving by don’t really have responsibility for this man’s life or death. No anger should be hurled at them for simply going on with their lives. Death comes to us all at various times. We should not be shocked when it does. Now, I understand the shock that someone like Bert might have, because normally you don’t see men dead on the side of the road here in our country. Our country tends to be quite civilized and developed. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    I really don’t feel sorry for this man’s death. I don’t know him, nor the situation regarding his death.

  2. Tatiana on October 2, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    I’m with Bert.

  3. MCQ on October 2, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    I think you’re wrong Dan. People don’t necessarily lose their faith in humanity during a divorce, unless the divorcing parties cause that to happen by their behavior. I think the point Bert was making is that no one stopped to care for this guy before or after he was dead. He was shot five times and just left to die apparently. That is very very sad and not a good comment on our society, whatever you might say. I would think a “good democrat” would know that.

  4. Lupita on October 2, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Is a broken home only broken by divorce?

    Uh, aren’t we our brother’s keeper, regardless of the state of his spirit? There is something disturbing about not being disturbed at an apparently overlooked (?) dead body (not to fault those who finally did arrive on the scene as they probably deal with this all too frequently).

  5. Curtis DeGraw on October 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Quick question: Does Luke 10: 30-37 apply only to the half-dead?

  6. polly on October 2, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    I too, am with Bert. Proudly with Bert. What difference does it make if the man was homeless? WHAT DIFFERENCE? Could a casual passerby ascertain that fact? Somehow I doubt it. He could have been anyone lying there. How many people drove by, walked by? And IGNORED him. I am angry at Dan’s comment. No, we don’t have a responsibilty for his life or his death. BUT we do have a responsiblity for what happens afterwards. Do we just let bodies rot on the street because this man has no family? Some of us outlive our loved ones, do we just throw the bodies on a fire because no one is left to mourn us? WAKE UP!!!!! Life and death for EVERYONE has to have some meaning, or there is nothing left of any of us. I would be very, very, proud of Bert and that he still cares. He could teach us a thing or two.

  7. Mathew on October 2, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I can’t help but see a metaphor in Bert’s experience for what goes in the larger world. Innocent people are slaughtered–and yet I don’t spend much time thinking about them. Confronted directly with evil I’m sure I, and most people, would do what Bert did–call the police; have the body removed. But after experiencing what Bert did I don’t think I, or most people, would sustain an interest in ferreting out and confronting evil–even if some of the deaths of innocents, unlike the man’s on the street, may still be preventable. I view this as a simple manifestation of our percieved limits to do good. I find that sad, but it doesn’t move me to lose faith in mankind. I freely admit, however, I am inclined to view mankind more favorably than it perhaps deserves due to my membership in its body.

  8. Brett on October 2, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Actually, my name is Brett. Brett John Light, to be exact. I\’m a 19 year old college student at Youngstown State who came from a broken home and a terrible childhood. No need to hide the facts.

    My family never once broke my faith in humanity. They made decisions as only humans can make: The kind of decisions that, while not thought out; had the best of intentions. That\’s all you can ask of them. My father made the decisions that were \”best\” for him at the time, and both my parents and all my siblings are happy. If none of this had happened, I wouldn\’t know the people I know, and I certainly wouldn\’t be writing this blog right now. I am who I am because terrible things happened to me. I owe my life to terrible occurences (and the experience gathered from all of them), and I\’m forever grateful for them.

    And yes, I\’m far more twisted than Papa D would ever make me out to be.

    You\’re wrong, Dan. That man deserved to be known, to be heard. He deserved somebody to care about his pain LONG before he was shot dead on the sidewalk. And nobody even cared then. It\’s a sad statement of society that we first and foremost blame somebody else for our own shortcomings. Lets blame a dead man on his family. That makes sense. How about we blame the hundreds of people who failed to care while he lived on the streets? People that wouldn\’t give him a job, or help him clean up. How about we blame a society that allows their dead to rot on the streetcorner, because maybe; JUST MAYBE, the lack of love is on their end. I thought we were above pointing fingers at everybody but ourselves. I don\’t mean to sound like I\’m lashing out, it\’s just…everything in context, man.

    That man was a child of God, just like the rest of us; to think you wouldn\’t pull over to help him when he desperately needed attention (or in this case, just a little respect) is sad.

    In fact, you sound like one of those \”move on with your life, bury your past experiences\” psychologists that attempted to keep me from learning anything from a terrible life.

    You can\’t run from the truth, people. All you can do is learn from your experiences, your mistakes, and do your best to make the world a better place.

    People can change the world. We just have to try. : )

    -Brett-

  9. Mathew on October 2, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Brett,

    I like the cut of your jib.

  10. Mike on October 2, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    On one hand, I agree with Bert and most of the commenters that it is awful that no one stopped to do anything, or at least call 911 of something. It’s easy to see how Bert would conclude that he can no longer have faith in humanity. Understandably the incident affected him deeply.

    On the other hand, the whole reason his story is so disturbing is that it is not what we would expect to happen. Most people would think someone would do something, like Bert did, and most of us would do something if in that situation. So can we really conclude that humanity has lost its way based on this incident? If this story was commonplace and didn’t surprise us, I could see his point. I can’t explain why no one did anything in he apparent hours that the man had been there, but this is one anecdotal incident that I don’t think is reflective of our society in general. Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist, but I think most people still care, and reading Bert’s experience isn’t enough to change my mind.

    I might feel differently if I were Bert and had seen it for myself, but like everything else, I must absorb this story and balance it with all the others I’ve seen and heard–good and bad–and avoid jumping to extreme conclusions.

  11. Brett on October 2, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Why thank you. Is it sad that; while I had a pretty good idea of what you mean, I still stopped to look it up? I guess sometimes I get worried about people sneaking in shots at me.

    Thanks.

  12. Brett on October 2, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Well, Mike, where I’m from; things like this happen all the time. I’m a med student, and I work as an orderly in the ER bay of St. Elizabeths hospital in the dark hours of the night.

    Every day, I see the terrible things people do to eachother. While I think saying I’ve lost faith in humanity is a stretch, perhaps, it doesn’t encourage me to see what happens to people everyday, all thanks to their fellow man. Doesn’t change the fact that I want to change the world.

    Also, it doesn’t change the fact that we all CAN change the world. It just takes enough people caring to make a difference, right?

  13. Mike on October 2, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Brett,

    Perhaps I’ve just led a sheltered life. I don’t doubt your observations.

    I agree that the world would be a better place if people cared about each other more. I think I can do better, and I’ll remember your experience as motivation.

  14. Curtis DeGraw on October 2, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks, Brett.

    I normally would not post the entire passage, but I will in this case. There is only *one* word – one half-word, actually – that is changed to make it fit this modern scenario.

    30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him DEAD.
    31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (I guarantee, most of those who “passed by” call themselves Christian.)
    32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
    33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (Brett is Mormon, a modern version of the Samaritans to many Christians.)
    34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Stayed with him)
    35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
    36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
    37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

    “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, *ye have done it unto me*.” (killed, stripped, wounded, ignored, passed by or stopped, waited, helped, felt compassion)

  15. Bandanamom on October 3, 2007 at 1:30 am

    This seems timely to me…

    Tonight coming home from dropping our son of at Scouts my husband saw a man underneath the bus stop sign about a block from the church. He pulled the car over and got out. I couldn\’t figure out why he was doing this – because, well, yes, I did see the guy there, but honestly, we see homeless guys laying around all the time and I guess I\’ve learned to sort of block it out. It was getting dark, so it was a little hard to see. But my husband didn\’t think anyone should be laying down on the pavement like that in such an awkward position with what appeared to be a bleeding wound. He couldn\’t get the man to wake up and called 911. Before the ambulance could get there the man started to come awake. He smelled very strongly of alcohol. By the time the ambulance got there he was pretty awake. They cleaned out his wound and were talking about calling the cops to come drag him off. My husband started talking to the man and asked him his name. He said is name was Jasper. He asked Jasper if he had somewhere to stay. He said yes, he had a friend at an apartment complex a couple of miles away. My husband asked for the friends name and got his number from directory assistance, called him, verified it would be okay to bring Jasper over, and we loaded him in our car and drove him home, rescuing him from the fate of having to be dragged away by the police. So did we save his life? No. But I think it was the right thing to do. The thing is though, that I had been thinking all night that for just a minute when my husband pulled over, I was annoyed. It was inconvenient. And it really bothers me that was my first instinct. And I think maybe what Brett is saying here, is that, far too often, we really don\’t practice the christian ideals that we preach.

  16. mlu on October 3, 2007 at 1:34 am

    And what would be an appropriate gesture to show that one cares about such things?

    Perhaps a busy mother on her way to pick up her first grader, or a physician on his way to a scheduled surgery, or a teacher nearly late for class, or all those other people working hard to contribute to a world that works better than the one this man found, should stop and make a great show of accusing all others of caring less?

    I don’t know what passers by could see so I’m assuming the best.

    I have found most people quite willing to help–and a good many eager to help–when they can help. But we all see plenty of trouble we can’t help every day.

    I normally stop to help people who I think are in trouble, but I make quite a few quick judgment calls about what’s the real situation as I flash by, with news of wars and rumors of war on my radio, and a list of friends and acquaintances facing huge problems on my mind.

  17. Lib on October 3, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Good for you, Bertt, I like the cut of your jib too.

    Free advice, and worth every penny of it: I hope you never lose your capacity for outrage. You’ll likely not have so disturbing and discouraging an experience as that one again, but plenty of lulus will come your way and there’s more than one way to react.

    Keep that ember glowing and ready to burst into flame when the right moments come, and there will be many. You’re right to rail against the injustice and the inhumanity you witnessed and shake your finger at us. As the outrages mount up, don’t grow old and cynical and tired and dismissive.

    It’s my observation that among the many ways people separate themselves into “camps” is their attitudes toward others, especially those they don’t know, the unfortunate and those complicit in their troubles. One camp emphasizes the virtue of taking care of oneself and those close, such as family. The theory is that if we all do our best for ourselves and ours then everyone will be taken care of. Another respects that self-reliance and personal responsibility ethic well-enough but feels it doesn’t go far enough – not everyone has anyone – and so self-consciously expends at least some effort thinking about our life in a society and our consequent duty to be concerned beyond ourself or our family or our tribe and consider the needs of others more distant from us.

    Obviously, you’re in the latter camp. Me too. Don’t let go, stay right there. Whether you wind up rich or poor, a doctor or a candlestick maker, hang on to the feelings that burned through you the day you met human tragedy on the side of the road. I have a hunch you will and the world will be a better place for it.

    “I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind.” -Eric Hoffer

  18. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Brett,

    Forgive me, but I’m still trying to understand what exactly you are so angered at. Is it that people were driving by at 70 miles per hour (at which speed you really don’t have enough ability in you to see a dead man lying on the side of the road in the grass), or that life moves too fast anyways, and we tend to forget about things, about certain priorities.

    I guess I’ve just paid attention to the news far too much, and have seen other such instances where bodies were discovered by a passerby and authorities were trying to figure out exactly who that individual was. Short of creating a system where we’re each monitored, I don’t see how it behooves any and all of us to do our best to find out who this or that individual is in this world. There are 300 million Americans on this earth, and over 6 billion total. It is impossible for me, with my capacity, to take care of anywhere close to enough people to ensure something like this doesn’t happen. It is also beyond the capacity of our society.

    Things like this do actually happen, even in our society. It isn’t society’s fault for them. That’s the whole point of a free society. Each individual is free to not be monitored constantly by the society around him. He could become so anonymous that he can get accosted by some bad guys, shot and left for dead on the side of a road.

    Now, we can talk about the creation of a socialist state wherein there are no homeless, but something makes me think that many Mormons would not appreciate that. Also, don’t worry about whoever shot him. God will give him his eternal reward. People get away with many bad things on this earth, but this earth is as far as they get away.

    Why would the police and ambulance be indifferent when they came to assist you? Well, probably because he was already dead. Not much they can do to a man dead, so there’s no rush. I don’t know why that bothers you, but it doesn’t bother me at all. Police and ambulance must take care of the living FIRST.

    Again, though, I cannot stress enough that the people you SHOULD be angry at are this individual’s family and friends. We all have families. There’s not a single individual on this planet (outside war zones) who doesn’t have someone in a family, even distant relatives. This man’s family deserves the wrath you direct at society around you.

  19. TMD on October 3, 2007 at 7:21 am

    I can appreciate your outrage, Brett. There is a deeply-seated, almost instinctive revulsion against failures to attend to the dead. It is at least as odd as the Greeks. And it is associated with basic ideas about human dignity.

    Nevertheless I’m hesitant about placing blame, even on theoretical family members. Let’s not take away the late man’s agency in terms of his family relations, after all.

    And I would note that the fact that you are in Youngstown may add an additional angle to this story, one probably unknown to those outside of Ohio, which may further the explanation of why people were hesitant to help–Youngstown’s status as a major center of mafia activity. This may have cause some people to prefer to not get ‘involved’ in what was clearly a violent crime.

  20. lamonte on October 3, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Mike #10 – “If this story was commonplace and didn’t surprise us, I could see his point.” I think what Brett is suggesting is that it is common place. The indifference of the passersby, the attitude of the police and his other experiences in the ER have led to his outrage.

    I know I watch too much television so forgive me for this anecdote. In one episode of The West Wing Toby Ziegler, the president communications director is contacted by local authorities because a homeless man is found dead wearing a coat with Toby’s business card inside. Toby goes to investigate and discovers that the man was wearing a coat Toby had given to Goodwill. He further discovers that the man was a Korean War veteran and so Toby uses the influence of the president’s office to get the man a burial at Arlington Cemetery. Later the president has a word with Toby about his apparent misuse of the president’s office. The president says something like, “If we’re not careful we’ll have to bury all homeless veterans at Arlington.” And Toby responds, “If only that were true”.

    The man Brett found could very easily have been a veteran. He could have been a father, a brother – he was somebody’s son. And in this, the most affluent society in the world (please don’t quote personal income stats from other countries because we are the most affluent in so many ways) nameless, homeless people die on the street every day – sometimes from gunshots, usually and more likely from exposure and neglect.

    Many thinks to Curtis and to Brett for bringing this dose of reality to our front door, if for only a moment, to force us to stop and think about why we are here.

  21. lamonte on October 3, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Sorry, I meant to say “Many thanks to Curtis…..”

  22. Russell Arben Fox on October 3, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Now, we can talk about the creation of a socialist state wherein there are no homeless, but something makes me think that many Mormons would not appreciate that.

    You’re very likely correct. Tragic, isn’t it?

  23. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 9:22 am

    TMD,

    #19,

    And I would note that the fact that you are in Youngstown may add an additional angle to this story, one probably unknown to those outside of Ohio, which may further the explanation of why people were hesitant to help–Youngstown’s status as a major center of mafia activity. This may have cause some people to prefer to not get ‘involved’ in what was clearly a violent crime.

    If this is indeed true, then it does change the whole equation. It also adds to why Brett sees a lot of bad things daily at his job.

  24. polly on October 3, 2007 at 9:45 am

    No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
    John Donne

    Even the homeless.

  25. John Scherer on October 3, 2007 at 10:02 am

    I just came to the realization that Youngstown is only an hour and a half from where I work and just over 2 hours from my home. I don’t know why that small fact would hit me so hard, but it did. I regularly pass broken down motorists on my way to and from the office. Every time I do I have the thought that I should stop and at least offer the use of my phone, but I don’t. After all, everyone has a cell phone by now and I’m not exactly mechanically inclined- I’d only be risking my own safety. I wonder if I’d have been able to help any of those times. Thanks for making me think today.

  26. polly on October 3, 2007 at 10:05 am

    So the more I think about this the more I am bothered. The callousness of our attitude towards the downtrodden is disturbing. Matthew 25: 40 ‘And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ Christ was pretty clear on how to treat those in need.
    I have a daughter who is mentally ill. As so many of the homeless are. I realize better then many of you the burdens placed upon her and her family. But does she deserve to lie on a sidewalk, ignored and despised because she lacks the capacity to help herself? I know we cannot help many of the homeless, but we need to not lose our compassion and indeed our very humanity because we cannot understand. At the very least we should remember this is a child of God and our brother or sister. At least in death they deserve dignity. A burial, a prayer over a wasted life. A prayer for what could have been. A prayer for peace at last.

  27. Nick Literski on October 3, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Not to take away from Brett’s valid point, but I think it’s important to point out that the passing motorists weren’t necessarily callous. Some years ago, a woman was stabbed to death in New York, while more than 30 of her neighbors listened to her cries for help, etc. Not one person called the police. Some who heard the story decried the end of civilization. While there is some debate as to the accuracy of the ensuing media coverage, it did lead researchers to try to understand why this would happen. As a result, researchers described a concept of “diffused responsibility.” In essence, when you have a crowd of people observing a crisis, there is a tendency for NOBODY to act, because everyone expects SOMEBODY to act. It creates something of a “paralysis” through the crowd, not because they don’t care, but because they’re certain “somebody” is taking care of it.

    This principle is applied in first aid training. As potential rescuers, students are taught never to just shout to bystanders, “Someone call 9-11!” Nobody will react. Instead, students are taught to single out one person among the bystanders, and direct, “YOU–Go call 9-11.”

    I think this phenomenon is important to consider, lest we be too judgmental in a setting like the one Brett observed.

  28. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 11:09 am

    I’m with Bert.

    Having much faith in humanity in the first place is a bad idea, though. And if you think creating a socialist state would lead to there being no homeless, you have *way* too much faith in humanity.

  29. cyril on October 3, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I’m with Dan. This is a straw not a stone.

  30. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I also want to add one more point. Brett’s anger with the society around him is based on what he expects of the society around him. When you have high expectations, you tend to be quite disappointed. That disappointment does not come because others act slow or don’t act at all, but it is solely based on the expectation you set.

    For example, to this day, I still hold raw feelings towards the people of Utah. I set a high standard of expectations for members of the church in Utah. I expected them to be nice to my family, etc. While on my mission, my sister sends me a package filled with anti-Mormon tracts and a letter telling me she has decided to leave the church. One of her main reasons? The way Utah Mormons treated her and our mom. To this day neither my mom or my sister are anywhere close to activity in the church.

    I set a standard for the state of Utah that I don’t set for any other place in the world, and it is an unfair expectation to set of the people of Utah. I cannot change the consequences of the expectations I set for them. I still feel raw towards them, and still feel defensive whenever I meet someone from Utah. It is unfair to them, and to me.

  31. Lib on October 3, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Re: #30

    I share your expectations for the people of Utah, Dan. I’m disappointed every time I drive down I-15 doing 70 where its 65 MPH and getting passed by most everyone like I’m standing still.

    BTW, I don’t know when your experience was but I subjectively judge very many Utah Mormons to be much more open toward and accepting of non-Mormons than 20 years ago. (Not the same situation as your family’s experience, I know.)

    Why isn’t it fair to expect a discernible difference for the better in majority-Mormon communities? I’ll keep it vague and not specify in what ways or compared to whom?

    ‘Course, there’re those speed limits…

    [Editor: Lets avoid this Utah hijack, please.]

  32. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Its a pseudonym, true, but its Bert, not Brett.

    [Update: Never mind. See comment #8. Mea culpa.]

  33. SL on October 3, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    how we treat the deceased is an indication of how we value life.
    Dan’s comment about the body, simply decaying back to Mother Earth, shows a lack of respect. True, the spirit is what matters. But then why do we bury our dead at all? It’s just decaying organic matter after all – toss ‘em out with the orange peels and coffee filters.
    The psychology Nick described above was probably a factor. But it’s still disheartening.

    The Utah discussion is a threadjack that doesn’t do justice to the topic at hand.
    I think it’s okay to differentiate between basic human expectations of interaction versus when there’s death.

  34. John Mansfield on October 3, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Seven years ago, the car of an old woman in Florida was hit by another car and sent off an interstate highway bridge into a swamp. The car with the woman inside dangled in the trees for three days. Two witnesses had called 911 on their cell phones, but the police who responded could see nothing amiss in the dark when they arrived. It is astonishing that someone could witness an accident like that and consider her duty fulfilled by a phone call as she drives past. Stopping and turning around on many interstates takes a determined conscious effort, however, an effort that the road design, and much of our life, stifles easily.

    http://archives.cnn.com/2000/US/08/18/woman.found/index.html#4

  35. lamonte on October 3, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Dan #30 – Although I’m an old fogey (a child of the 60′s) I like some of my kids’ music from time to time. A few years back I fell in love with a song by Gin Blossoms call “Hey Jealousy”. My favorite verse goes like this:

    You can trust me not to drink
    And not to sleep around
    And if you don’t expect too much from me
    You might not be let down

    My former defiant self likes that image but my later (hopefully more mature) self recognizes the sad nature of that sentiment. We have every right to expect the best from mankind. Look at the thousands who sacrificed so much, even their lives, in tragic events like 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami and so many other devastating events that have been so well publicized. And then consider the compassionate caring and sacrifice of so many others who give of their time and their lives in the hospitals, hospices and private bedrooms of many who are dying of cancer, aids or any other illness and who do it without recognition or even notice. I am amazed by the willingness of so many to give of themselves without reward. I hopelessly wish to be like them but realize that I never will, at least not in this life. Bert (or Brett) has every justification for his anger.

  36. Lib on October 3, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Re #33. Sorry, no threadjack intended. I’m a noob here and uncertain of the customs including as regards topic discipline.

    It felt to me more like thread drift or a thread within a thread – common in my experience elsewhere.

  37. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    No problem, Lib. Its not so much that we mind thread drift, its that some topics are so explosive that they overwhelm the thread–like criticism and defense of Utah Mormons.

  38. Lib on October 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Re: #37. Oh, okay, thanks. I know the incandescent subjects elsewhere as abortion, Israel/Palestine, race, the evangelical right, etc.

    I shall govern myself accordingly, friend.

  39. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Sorry for introducing the Utah thing. I couldn’t think of a better personal example.

    In any case, I have not seen enough evidence to convince me to be outraged too about this incident (or other such incidents).

    SL,

    Dan’s comment about the body, simply decaying back to Mother Earth, shows a lack of respect. True, the spirit is what matters. But then why do we bury our dead at all? It’s just decaying organic matter after all – toss ‘em out with the orange peels and coffee filters.

    I think you took my comments a little too far. I was not in any way saying that we should have let the body just remain there to rot away and return to nature. I was trying to elaborate on why the police and ambulance felt no sense of urgency about the matter. Once you are dead, there ain’t no comin’ back. There’s no point in rushing to assist the dead man. What would be the rush? To slow the decaying process? To somehow stop the stench?

    For members of a church who espouse family over society, I am quite surprised that so few are with me, that the real anger should be toward this dead man’s family. It isn’t society’s responsibility to take care of him. Isn’t that the principles that most Mormons espouse in practically all other matters? Why should this be different? If we are so angered that society is failing to take care of a dead man, why are we not just as angry, IF NOT MORE SO, that society is failing to provide societal health care for children? Or why do we not show the same anger toward those who try to take away societal provisions for our elderly and retired folk?

    I just don’t get this anger toward society over a dead man and the lack of anger at society for failing to take care of the living.

  40. Brett on October 3, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Dan,

    I don’t profess to be a member of any church. I’m simply here because my pops reposted my blog, and I felt like commenting. I refuse to blame this man’s family without knowing the context. Who knows how he got there? Didn’t God teach you not to jump to conclusions, or something?

    I call them as I see them, Dan. I can’t prove that the mans family (or lack thereof) left him lying dead on the sidewalk. What I CAN see is hundreds, maybe thousands of people paying absolutely no respect to a dead homeless man, wearing a light-brown coat and bright orange jogging pants lying dead on a chalk-white sidewalk on a 35mph road passing over highway 422. Perhaps I have to be that specific, just to remove all justification for people not seeing him.

    This leaves one option: Nobody cared about an easily-spotted dead man on the side of the road. Even in your cynical point of view, shouldn’t somebody have called the authorities to “scrape up some decaying matter?” I feel perfectly justified in my rage at the matter. How could human beings be so uncaring?

    No man is an island, sir.

    -Brett-

  41. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Brett,

    You refuse to blame this man’s family without knowing the context, but yet blame society around you without knowing the full context of the situation. If you are apparently in Youngstown, which apparently has a strong mafia presence, it would seem to indicate that the society around you may fear getting close to a man killed in a murder. Do you really know the context of the situation enough to blame the society around you, but not blame the family of the dead man?

    I get that this situation disturbed you, greatly, Brett. But I just don’t see enough evidence for myself to have indignation at the residents of Youngstown.

  42. Brett on October 3, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Also, Dan, who says we AREN’T angry at the lack of societal health care? Or the elderly being taken advantage of. Most sensible people would be, if they looked at the facts. The fact here, though, is that we aren’t currently talking about that.

    con-text [KON-texst]
    -noun
    2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

  43. Brett on October 3, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    There hasn’t been a real mafia presence in the city of Youngstown in at least 50 years. Nobody cares about this bloody place enough anymore to actually have a mob now. It’s just a ghetto, and bad things happen in the ghetto.

    What excuse does Joe Schmoe have to not at least call 911 to tell them there’s a DEAD MAN LYING ON THE SIDEWALK? He just drove by. He’s probably already on his phone in the car to begin with, so why not just make a call? The entire process of calling the ambulance took me no more than 45 seconds. Perhaps his death wasn’t quite visible from the road, considering I basically walked over the top of him. In that case, why not call 911 cause there’s a potentially injured man on the road? That’s even worse. He stuck out like a sore thumb, even though I didn’t really know he was dead til I flipped him over. And it’s not like there’s homeless people on the 422 overpass…ever. That’s practically on the YSU campus, there’s never homeless people on campus. I’d know, I’m usually working at the Soup Kitchen in The Hollows once or twice a month, they like to congregate there.

    The people who drove by that scene have no excuse, in my opinion. I can’t blame his family. I can find fault in the people who drove by and did nothing, Dan. But now I have class, so I’m out for now.

    -Brett-

  44. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    If it is Youngstown that we are talking about, it seems that indeed it is not a good town. Take this entry in the Urban Dictionary (note, the Urban Dictionary is not afraid to say it like it is and there are a lot of cuss words there) on “yompton” the derisive term for Youngstown. Take reference #3 for instance:

    Refers to Youngstown, Ohio. A city known for violence, robbery, mafia, corrupt pollitical figures, and high unemployment among other things.

    You have to be nuts to live in Yompton.

    There is another article that highlights Youngstown’s apparent bad reputation. It seems the problem is not with “society” but with “Youngstown.”

  45. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Well, I wrote another post with context about Youngstown, but it is in moderation due to several links. Mayhap an admin will release it. :)

  46. Russell Arben Fox on October 3, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    It isn’t society’s responsibility to take care of him.

    “Family” and “society” and “state” are mixed and interdependent phenomenon; so is “church” for that matter. Society–other people; fellow citizens; brothers in the gospel; friends and neighbors; policitians and taxpayers–is most certainly responsible for that man: perhaps not in every way that his family may be, perhaps not to the degree that his family may be. But society carries responsibility nonetheless.

    If we are so angered that society is failing to take care of a dead man, why are we not just as angry, IF NOT MORE SO, that society is failing to provide societal health care for children?

    Exactly! This is the sort of reasoning that gets us moving in the right direction. My thanks, Dan.

  47. Behind the Infamous Veil on October 3, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Brett, I want to thank you for what you did.
    My uncle was a classical cellist and played at Radio City Music Hall in NYC in the late ’50′s. He was in his early 40′s and had just had a baby boy, my cousin. One Saturday he went into the city in his “grubby” clothes. He was walking down the street when he had a heart attack. He lay in the gutter while people walked by, ignoring him because they thought he was a drunk. After many hours, he died. This was a tragedy that could have been avoided if someone had cared.

  48. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I think its extremely bad taste to wrest incidents like this as political propaganda. Dan and Russell F. know full well that people who oppose socializing the health care industry have grounds other than sheer indifference to the people who cross their paths. Yet they feel perfectly justified in trying to take a real incident of such indifference and use it as propaganda. I have news for you: no one would have shown more respect for this man’s death if the government paid our healthcare bills and you are paying less respect for it by using it merely as a political hobbyhorse.

  49. Ardis Parshall on October 3, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    A couple of nights ago in Salt Lake City, a man on a bicycle was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver. Terrible. No excuse.

    Another motorist, coming along behind, positioned his car by the downed cyclist in order to shield him from being hit by any other cars, and stayed with him until emergency medical help arrived. Wonderful. What we all should do.

    So should I lose my faith in humanity and rant and rave at people who don’t rant and rave along with me, because a human being could hit another human being and drive off without stopping to see whether he was okay? Such things are unfortunately common, and I haven’t been able to think of any way to change that.

    Or should I be proud of the second driver, and hope that there are far, far more like him in this world than like the first one, and trust that such a Good Samaritan will be there when I need help? Such things are fortunately extremely common, and even though there is little I can do to encourage them, at least I can resolve to do likewise should I ever be in a similar situation.

    I understand your outrage, Brett, but *we’re* not the ones you should be railing against.

  50. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Both, AEP.

  51. Ardis Parshall on October 3, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I’m willing to be sorrowful, disgusted, disappointed, whatever, in the first, AG, but not to rant and rave about it. That accomplishes exactly zero. I’m certainly not going to lose my faith in humanity over it, especially in light of the second.

  52. Ray on October 3, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    First, why would anyone take this personally? Brett correctly pointed out that hundreds of people (at least) “passed by on the other side” – and he was angry at them. I couldn’t agree more.

    Second, why does this very personal account have to be discussed by finding excuses for those who didn’t help? The Savior didn’t say that inasmuch as those who aren’t busy or in a hurry have done it unto the leat of these my brethren, they have done it unto me. He also didn’t give an automatic excuse for the type town involved.

    Third, someone – anyone – explain to me how this isn’t a modern version of the Good Samaritan.

  53. Curtis DeGraw on October 3, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Someone address, please, #47 – a skilled musician. Someone justify that one – and explain how it’s any different.

  54. lamonte on October 3, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    AG and AEP – I may have read Bret’s story wrong but in my mind he was stating his disgust with all those who acted contrary to AEP’s second group. I know he said he had “lost his faith in humanity” but isn’t just another way of expresing digust, not necessarily an indictment against all humanity Perhaps it has been his experience to witness that behavior as the norm rather than the exception. The beautiful example that Ardis related illustrates the potential of all men. I think Bret has a right to be angry and even express doubts about the goodness of mankind precisely because he knows we are all capable of better behavior.

  55. Nick Literski on October 3, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Second, why does this very personal account have to be discussed by finding excuses for those who didn’t help?

    Sorry, Ray, I didn’t mean to offend by bringing up the whole “diffusion of responsibility” thing. It was meant to be a comfort to Bert, suggesting that things weren’t quite as bad as they seemed. Obviously, it didn’t come across that way.

  56. Ardis Parshall on October 3, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I suppose some of us took it personally because it was written that way — “What is wrong with the world? How can you just not care THAT MUCH?” along with some heated dismissals of the few people who correctly pointed out that we don’t really have any context. Brett has since said that the body was in plain view, but in the original post that wasn’t evident — there was no clue as to how well traveled the road was or whether there was roadside brush, and since the road was ABOVE the freeway it’s not likely that any of the freeway drivers could have seen or done anything had they wanted to.

    In other words, quite a bit of heat has been expressed, and has been largely directed toward anybody who didn’t jump on the “oh, I’ve lost my faith, too” bandwagon. Terrible thing for Brett to have seen, but there’s too much good in humanity for me to get worked up over one event about which I know virtually nothing.

  57. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    In other words, quite a bit of heat has been expressed, and has been largely directed toward anybody who didn’t jump on the “oh, I’ve lost my faith, too” bandwagon

    No, but there has been heat towards those who’ve been attacking his experience and telling him he overreacted. Too much heat all around.

  58. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Adam,

    I think its extremely bad taste to wrest incidents like this as political propaganda.

    And why not? After all, Brett is calling us to action. Why not direct righteous anger where it needs to be directed? Toward the living! If we as a society have responsibility over a dead man, why do we as a society NOT have responsibility over living children? Why do we as a society NOT have responsibility to ensure they have health care? What about our elderly? Do they not deserve societal coverage when they retire? Where does the responsibility from society end, Adam?

  59. Ardis Parshall on October 3, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    No, but there has been heat towards those who’ve been attacking his experience and telling him he overreacted.

    A bit of heat here: What do you mean “No”? Dan’s original response didn’t attack Brett’s experience, yet this is what Dan was met with: “You\’re wrong, Dan. … you sound like one of those \”move on with your life, bury your past experiences\” psychologists … You can\’t run from the truth, people.”

    I realize Brett is at a naive and idealistic age, but he needs to learn that if he wants to rally people to his causes, he won’t do it with tactics like this. I’m a mean, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person, granted, but when I read the post I just wanted to turn up my coat collar and walk away. I didn’t leave that man lying there and it’s hard to imagine anyone I know leaving that man lying there — why is he yelling at us? was my primary response.

  60. Curtis DeGraw on October 3, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    EVERYONE: I wrote this post – and I included what Brett posted on HIS OWN BLOG. I hoped it would spark a discussion of the modern application of the Good Samaritan.

    Ardis, You know how much I respect you, but Brett is not yelling at “us”. He is mad at those who passed by; he was railing at them – and used a bit of hyperbole, like we all do to make a point. We are the grown ups who need to liken things to ourselves and try to find the good message out of what we see and hear.

    I will discontinue this thread if it devolves into name-calling and personal affront. I brought this to this group – not Brett. If you feel attacked, address me – not him.

  61. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    AEP, Dan attacked the validity of Brett’s reaction way back in comment #1.

    Dan,
    From comment #1 on, you continue to act as if we should only care for the living. On the contrary, I think respect for the dead is a fine thing, Brett did a fine thing, and those who let a body lay there did not. Antigone knows a truth that you don’t. Further, I don’t see Brett calling for some kind of governmental program to send corpse-sniffing dogs to roam the streets so that if ever a man die alone a social worker can be despatched to stand by the body. He’s calling on us, if we ever find ourselves in that kind of situation, to not pass on by. You’re the one who wants to make it about social programs, and you’re doing it in a particularly thoughtless and crude way. That’s disrespectful propaganda, as if someone had put up a post about how heartbroken they were because of a miscarriage and I started raving about Roe V. Wade.

    I brought this to this group – not Brett. If you feel attacked, address me – not him.

    Good point.

  62. Y Stephenson on October 3, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Brett did the right thing. It was what any good citizen would be expected to do, if for no other reasons than public health matters. Every single person deserves justice. Where is the justice in deciding this is a mob hit and therefore a decent burial is inappropriate. I thought he was talking about Cleveland until Youngstown was identified. It could have been any big city. He did the decent and right thing and the only excuse a motorist might have for driving by and not reporting this body would be that they didn’t see it. If it had been a toddler let out on the interstate traffic would have stopped completely.

    Perhaps his family was looking for him and just hadn’t found him. Perhaps they were somewhere in town handing out fliers making please for information. Shame on Youngstown and Cleveland and New York in the 50′s, or Newark or any place else that has become so used to violence that they walk or drive by its effects and do nothing.

  63. jsg on October 3, 2007 at 7:08 pm
  64. Y Stephenson on October 3, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    opps make pleas as in requests not a polite expression, please

  65. Curtis DeGraw on October 3, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Dan, I respect the issues you are addressing, but I also can exercise my executive right to ask you to address them elsewhere or on different threads. Those are issues I simply do not want to address on this particular thread.

    My concern, frankly, is for Luke 10:31-33. Specifically, it is about what it means in our modern world to “pass by on the other side” and “when he saw him, he had compassion on him” – proven not by what he *felt* for him but by what he *did* for him. From a car “passing on the other side” it might have been impossible to tell that the man was dead; from Brett’s subsequent clarification, it is obvious that his death was not apparent until he was turned to check for vital signs. In my mind, that makes this story an EXACT replica of the parable (right down to the “chosen” people passing by and the “religious rebel” stopping to help). The work that should have been done in the name of the Redeemer of all mankind was, in fact, done by someone who most of the “Christian” community in the area (if they understood his unique religious outlook) would condemn to Hell. That is a sad, sad commentary, indeed.

  66. Adam Greenwood on October 3, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Curtis DeGraw,
    I’m sorry that I was participating in a threadjack. My apologies.

  67. Curtis DeGraw on October 3, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    It’s cool, Adam. I hadn’t labeled it as a threadjack, so it wasn’t at that point, right? *Grin*

  68. Dan on October 3, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Curtis,

    That’s cool. Then I’ve said what I have to say. :)

  69. Curtis DeGraw on October 3, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks, Dan. I appreciate your understanding.

  70. Mike on October 3, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    #63: Wow, that’s even worse than the story in the original post! Even those that passed by in the parable of the good samaritan at least didn’t steal the man’s stuff. I don’t know what’s more sad: the fact that those people apparently didn’t care about a man that was dying, or that they were in such a desperate situation that the food was so important to them.

    I’m starting to reconsider my position in comment #10. I still think these incidents are probably more the exception than the rule, but perhaps they are more common an exception that I had thought–and worthy of our consideration on why this happens and what we should do about it.

    The comparison to the parable is indeed striking in many ways. It’s sad that this thread centered more on the phrase “lost faith in humanity”, which Brett himself admitted was probably too strong way back in #12, instead of applying the parable to today’s society, which I think is what Curtis intended and would have been more edifying.

  71. Janet on October 3, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Curtis, I just found your thread courtesy of the snarker–and I’m glad they linked to it. I’m glad you shared this story. I also agree that episodes like this are the exception, though far-too-frequent ones when the homeless are concerned.

    Once in downtown Fort Collins, where my hubby and I had stopped for dinner en route from Missouri to Utah, we found a two-year old child alone in the middle of downtown. I stooped down to talk to the boy and see if I could help him. A mail carrier passed us, noted that she’d seen the boy a while before we had and that we were “doing the right thing–keep at it.” I wondered why she hadn’t taken care of the child earlier and felt not so much angry as very confused and troubled. I believe people were afraid of interfering rather than indifferent, although the accumulative effect is the same. As a culture we want to respect private space, sometimes to the point of damage. Fort Collins is a good town with good people and once I said to someone, “hey, this kid is missing his mama” people eagerly found her. In about 2 minutes, actually. It was a surreal experience.

  72. Howard on October 4, 2007 at 1:47 am

    Crowd swipes dying man’s groceries
    The sight of an old man being hit by a truck in Arizona touched off a feeding frenzy among witnesses who allegedly stole the dying victim’s groceries.

  73. Dan on October 4, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Janet,

    The probable reason why no one else bothered to help is that in this country our laws are set up in such a way that sometimes helping may end up being interpreted as interfering. So people generally shy away from assisting when others are in need. Thankfully there are Good Samaritan laws but I don’t think many people are aware. Secondly, even if aware, who wants to go through the hassle of a lawsuit, even if they come out the victors? You still have to pay lawyer fees and all. It sure puts a bad taste in your mouth about assisting someone. Because we generally don’t know all the facts in a particular incident, the safer bet is to stay away and let those individuals deal with their situations as they are.

    This is why we should remain close to the Spirit, because the Spirit can whisper to us if indeed we should get involved, knowing far more than we ever would about the context of the situation.

  74. Mike on October 4, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Dan (#73): I can see your point in some situations, but in this case I can’t. If a little boy is alone in the middle of downtown, obviously he needs help. I don’t think we need to say, “Heavenly Father, do I need to help that little boy?” and then wait for a confirmation from the Spirit. This is a case where we need to be “anxiously engaged” and make the right decision on our own. I also doubt that legal worries were what concerned the mail carrier.

    I would agree with your statement if you change the “should” to “shouldn’t” in your last sentence. Perhaps that’s more of what you meant. There are lots of stories of people trying to do the right thing and receiving inspiration from the Spirit that they shouldn’t do it because there is a hidden danger.

    I don’t mean to get into an argument over this, I just disagree that we need the Spirit to tell us to get involved in such a situation, if that really is what you are saying.

  75. lamonte on October 4, 2007 at 8:25 am

    “…in this country our laws are set up in such a way that sometimes helping may end up being interpreted as interfering.” I think you may right about that issue. A couple of years ago one of the network television magazine shows (48 hours, Datline – I’m not sure which one) conducted a test on the streets of Manhattan. A middle aged man, a fatherly looking fellow, had a young girl, probably 8 years old, by the hand seemingly forcing her to come with him. As passersby would get close to these two, the little girl would say something like, “No, I’m not going with you. You’re not my dad.”

    One couple that appeared to be upper middle class by their dress simply turned their heads and walked past the little girl. Then an Hispanic man and his son walked by in much the same manner. My favorite part of this exewrcise was that it was finally two young African American guys, looking like typical boys from the ‘hood’, were the ones that confronted the man pulling on the little girl’s hand. In fact, the man had to be quick in informing these two that he was with the network because they were about to do him bodily harm. I thought this was great because it illustrated that our stereotyping of certain people – who would be most likely to help – is often incorrect (or is that just MY stereotyping?). Maybe these young men didn’t know about “our laws” or maybe they just didn’t care. Either way, I’m glad they made the choice they did.

    I should also relate without specific details that on a recent trip into Manhattan a family member had a medical emergency on the street. The man who runs a nearby hot dog stand called an ambulance for us but as we waited there on the sidewalk I’m guessing about a dozen people stopped to ask if they could help and offered to call the ambulance on their cell phone. It changed my opinion of New Yorkers and warmed my heart in general.

  76. Curtis DeGraw on October 4, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for sharing that, lamonte. I think that example is exactly what “should” have happened in Brett’s experience. I think our stereotypes and various fears definitely play a role in how we react. I also think recognizing that is the first step to correcting it.

    Mike, that is exactly how I look at it – help unless promtped strongly not to do so.

  77. Janet on October 4, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Another reason we may have been the first people to stop and help the little boy could be that most people simply did not notice him. He was small. I don’t know what the mail carrier’s deal was, unless she was trying to keep an eye on him while doing her job. Maybe she feared looking like a child molester. I’ll admit–that’s not the first lost kid I’ve helped. In the Museum of Science and Industry a toddler approached me and just lifted up his arms. Automatically, I picked him up, looked around for an adult, and started walking to find a security guard. I found his mom instead, who luckily thanked me profusely. It only occurred to me later that I might have looked like a kidnapper. Eeek. Nobody wants to get in the press as an alleged kidnapper/child molester.

    Still, I’d rather get fallacious press than leave kid all alone.

  78. Craig W. on October 4, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Here in the Portland area, and I assume elsewhere, homeless people tend to find refuge from the elements under the freeway/highway overpasses. This past summer a body was discovered under such an overpass in the Beaverton area. It was all over the news and the nearly shut down all traffic while they removed the body and conducted an investigation. Also, about 20 years ago while driving home from work I came across the body of a young man who had just committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. His body was badly mangled and the site was quite gruesome. Several people stopped and we did our best to cover the body until the authorities could arrive and deal with the situation. These events illustrate behavior that is quite a contrast to Brett’s experience. I believe that most people would behave in a like manner.

    To me, the decent, humane behavior would be to at least make a phone call. So Brett I understand your frustration; however, I would like to add that my positive experiences with others far overwhelm those of a negative nature. Cheer up, there really are a lot of wonderful people out there.

  79. mlu on October 5, 2007 at 2:23 am

    A friend of mine who attends a different church said she got very weary of attending church because the preacher preached so many sermons against homosexuality. It wasn’t apparent that many–or any–persons in that congregation were struggling with that issue.

    It struck me what an easy thing it is to talk about the failings of all those people over there, whoever they are. It’s an easy thing to feel righteous by tut tutting about the conduct of those who fail to see and feel as we, the more righteous, see and feel.

    One of the things I normally enjoy about Mormonism is how little of that there normally is and how ready we are to talk about the sins with which we ourselves are struggling. I confess that I’m sometimes more indifferent to the plight of others than I ought to be and I have a long list of reasons I use to justify that. I also try, regularly, to help other people.

    Since I’m the human I know best, my faith in humanity is about the same as my faith in myself. I think most people want to do good, and do so very often, and often fail to do all they can for a long list of reasons that, I hope, are not ultimately damning.

    I also work in a situation where the need of others outdistances the resources I and my colleagues can muster by several orders of magnitude. Some days I drive home, not noticing much along the way, and watch television for a while and go to bed.

    Later, God willing.

  80. Curtis DeGraw on October 5, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks, mlu, for that perspective.

  81. Mi on October 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    mlu, I really like your statement:

    “Since I’m the human I know best, my faith in humanity is about the same as my faith in myself.”

    IMO, that is very profound. We change the world by starting with ourselves.

    Brett, as I told you before: you did the right thing, and despite what you saw from others that makes you feel you’ve lost faith in humanity, *you didn’t lose faith in yourself.* Hold onto that, and keep doing the good things you are!

  82. ST on October 8, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Holy crap. Dan, you represent everything that is wrong with this country. You, Dan, are just about the worst possible excuse for a citizen-neighbor as I have ever encountered. I have always been exceptionally cynical and somehow you still managed to make me lose a little more hope for this country.

    \”The people driving by don’t really have responsibility for this man’s life or death. No anger should be hurled at them for simply going on with their lives.\”

    I REALLY hope you aren\’t LDS. The phrases \”do unto others\” and \”unto the least\” spring instantly to mind. The thought that there are those within the church who are so cold and callous as to leave a man lying in the street for several days because they are too self-absorbed to even hit 911-send on their cell phone is enough to make one sick.

    You, Dan, are the problem. You, Dan, may try to pin 100% of the blame for allowing a man to die on the sidewalk and rot there for several days because of a dysfunctional family, but you, Dan, represent those families who were too busy with their own lives to care for one of their own. If ~YOUR~ child was bleeding out on the sidewalk would you be upset that complete strangers couldn\’t be bothered to call an ambulance? After all, by your logic wouldn\’t the only way that your child could end up dying on a sidewalk be through your neglect and apathy?

    The other day a man was killed by a hit and run driver. There were many witnesses. Instead of helping the witnesses scrambled to steal his groceries as he died. There was one person in the crowd who attempted to help. The thugs stole his groceries as well. This society of ours isn\’t so much sick as it IS the sickness itself. And you, Dan, have demonstrated that you are more of a symptom than a cure.

  83. Dan on October 8, 2007 at 6:30 am

    wow, ruffled some feathers have I.

  84. queuno on October 8, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Re the Youngstown thing (19, 23, 25, 41, 43, 44) -

    Listen, I agree that someone should have made a phone call and all that. But people who don’t live in Youngstown are making too light of this (and people who do are brushing over it).

    There are parts of Cleveland that make Youngstown seem like Provo, UT. There are killings and knifings and whatnot in Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, Akron, etc. all the time in areas where even the police don’t care. There’s a major university in Cleveland built in a part of town most people don’t like visiting *in the day*. Without knowing anything else about this situation (and I’m not going to spend hours researching it), my *initial* reaction to the piece was to nod my head and think, “I’ll bet someone called 9-1-1 on their cell phone and the police haven’t gotten around to responding.” Did that happen? Dunno. To this former NE Ohio resident, does it pass the smell test? You bet.

    (Just because there hasn’t been a “mafia killing” in Youngstown in however period of time doesn’t mean there aren’t crime-ridden, depressed, and dangerous areas. I mean, this community kept sending Traficant to Congress. Even amongst native Ohioans, it’s the first area anyone thinks of when you think of the Mob. It’s the New Jersey of Ohio.)

    I like the Good Samaritan parable. I really do. But there are situations in which I’m going to place a call to the authorities and let them handle it, instead of getting involved myself. That does for parts of NE Ohio, as it does for Dallas or Salt Lake City. Let me ask, was the Good Samaritan potentially in danger of losing his life?

    Dan probably crossed the line with his comments, but his basic intent is not exactly incorrect.

  85. queuno on October 8, 2007 at 9:05 am

    (BTW, I did see the part where Bret had called the police and they finally responded. I’m just saying, it’s entirely possible it was reported earlier and the police hadn’t gotten around to it. And for people to not pay attention to it — yes, it may be unfortunate, but this *is* Youngstown we’re talking about (and could have been Lorain or even Lakewood). Did the Good Samaritan have a good death-and-dismembership insurance plan?).

  86. queuno on October 8, 2007 at 9:09 am

    (This entire post and comments actually lists about 5 of the reasons I chose not to live the rest of my life in NE Ohio.)

  87. Dan on October 8, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Queno,

    Indeed the Good Samaritan’s life was at risk on that road. James Talmage writes in Jesus the Christ:

    The parable with which our Lord replied to the lawyer’s question is rich in interest as a story alone, and particularly so as an embodiment of precious lessons. It was withal so true to existing conditions, that, like the story of the sower who went forth to sow, and other parables given by the Lord Jesus, it may be true history as well as parable. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was known to be infested by highway robbers; indeed a section of the thoroughfare was called the Red Path or Bloody Way because of the frequent atrocities committed thereon. Jericho was prominent as a residence place for priests and Levites. A priest, who, out of respect to his office, if for none other cause, should have been willing and prompt in acts of mercy, caught sight of the wounded traveler and passed by on the far side of the road. A Levite followed; he paused to look, then passed on. These ought to have remembered the specified requirement of the law—that if one saw an ass or an ox fall down by the way, he should not hide himself, but should surely help the owner to lift the creature up again.[912] If such was their duty toward a brother’s beast, much greater was their obligation when a brother himself was in so extreme a plight.

  88. Dan on October 8, 2007 at 10:39 am

    hey, a comment is in moderation. I really should stop using links.

  89. queuno on October 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks, Dan. I don’t think the road between Jericho and Jerusalem has anything on Youngstown, though. :)

  90. Mike Kessler on October 10, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Brett, there is a Talmudic saying that goes something like “He who has saved one life, it is as if he has saved the whole world.” I know it shakes your faith in humanity that others would walk on by those in need, would not care about this or maybe any other stranger. The fact is, though, that you =did= care, and you took action. Many people have brought up the tale of the Good Samaritan. The other story in there is that people have always walked by those in need because they didn’t have the time, didn’t care enough, but throughout history it has only taken the action of one caring person to save the world. In this case, you were that one person, and that’s all that was required. Of course, it would have been more fulfilling had there been a dozen others, but on the other hand, you could’ve walked by, too, and you didn’t. Much of what I read on this thread has me appalled at people’s lack of humanity, their quickness to blame the victim and the good Samaritan. But I have not lost my faith in humanity because you showed me that one person cared enough to stop, and as long as we have at least one person who cares about those who lie in the dust, we are not lost.

  91. Mike on October 20, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    I can see that Bret feels the way he does because he experiences a particular human emotion more intensely than the average person. Empathy. Very few people are mentally able to experience empathy to the degree that he does. The only way that I can explain a moment of extreme empathy is to say that it feels like you have left your body, and that you no longer are real. Sounds weird I know. You become so engrossed in another persons emotion that you feel like its your own problem, the reason you become angry is because its sudden and you a rendered helpless by it. Brent\’s natural reaction (not of his choice) was to understand why people didn\’t see what he saw. Brent you have to understand that what you have is a gift and you should never try to convince anyone that you are right. Just know that you are.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.