The Price of Passivity and Fear

An unnamed California girl was gang raped for two and a half hours four days ago

  Two and a half hours …

     Three class periods

     A 5K Marathon

     An evening in front of the television

     160+ miles in a car at 65 miles per hour

while bystanders helped spread the word about what was happening — bringing more than a dozen men and boys to the scene, some of whom joined in the attack, according to the Richmond, Calif., police. Authorities didn’t even know about the attack until someone overheard participants “reminiscing” about it and called authorities. (Times Record Online)

Let’s put this in context.

From Wikipedia:

In 2004, Richmond was statistically the second most dangerous city in California and was named the 8th most dangerous city in the country.[49] However, those rankings have changed and Richmond is now the third most dangerous in California behind Compton and Oakland and 11th most dangerous nationally according to the Morgan Quitno ranking.


It is easy to label these criminals:  thugs, deviants, opportunists.  It’s also easy to label the bystanders:  cowards, those suffering from “diffused responsibility and the desire to fit in.” The environment in Richmond is obviously not the best.

So what?

“Don’t be afraid to stand alone.  The crowd might fall.”

You have to learn how to take action.  It starts with seeing and acknowledging what you see.

You start with small actions.  Then when the big things happen, you have the habit of courage and action.  It’s like athletic training.

This young woman will never be the same.  Neither will her attackers.  Neither will those who watched.  I’m not talking about guilt or responsibility,  law or morality.  This act created a legacy for everyone concerned.  A legacy that will be addressed for good or for ill.  Pipers are always paid – no matter what it takes to raise the funds.

Passivity and fear are very, very expensive.  They just don’t levy upfront fines.  Passivity and fear make long term deductions from our very souls.  So before we judge and condemn – and unqualified condemnation of the perpetrators’ actions is called for  – let’s use this as an opportunity to learn, model and teach.

Choose this day whom ye shall serve.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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