Friday, June 21, 2024


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What Have We Become

            A woman was assaulted and raped last week on a Philadelphia Transit train.  The alleged attacker, a homeless man, was arrested.

            But, that wasn't the only horrible thing that happened that day, on that train, at that time.

            Several commuters on the train witnessed the attack and did nothing.  Nobody intervened and nobody called 911.  Save for an off-duty Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority employee who notified SEPTA Transit Police, who then were waiting at the next stop to make the arrest.

            What is disturbing is that security cameras on the train found multiple riders rising to the occasion with cell phone in hand.  Not to call for help, but most likely to video the crime.

            According to SEPTA's Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel III, surveillance footage showed the perpetrator spent nearly 45 minutes harassing the woman before attacking her.  It also showed that the rape lasted about six minutes as other passengers looked on while holding their cellphones up in the direction of the attack, but didn't use the devices to call 911.

            Upper Darby police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said "the attack might have been prevented if someone had gotten involved."

            It's 2021.  What has happened to people?  Has posting on social media become more important than preventing a crime or saving a life?  Is the desire to become a social influencer or the need to show your relevance to the hyper-world so strong that you would sacrifice a fellow human being to quench your thirst for any kind of recognition.

            If you witness a crime taking place and feel uncomfortable or unsafe with physically intervening, call or seek help.  If you were the victim, I'm sure you would want a Good Samaritan to do that for you.

            Our history is filled with unnamed heroes who stepped up to save others.  Now, it seems that too many people equate the number of clicks and likes they get on social media with their own belief in their importance to the world.  There is a belief that it raises their own personal social standing.  You can call it the "look at me … look at me" syndrome.  The proud proclaimer of "I didn't do anything to help but I know how to use my camera on my cell phone."

            We are not impressed.

            Educator and statesman, Horace Mann once said, "Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves."

            What have we become?







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