When Good Men Do Nothing

This was originally posted on 8/18/2013

 

Edmund-Burke-Quote

I want to paint a picture for you. Say you are with a group of people and decide to go out to eat on a Friday night. Think about the group you typically hang out with on Friday nights. Say you guys decide to out to eat. The decision is made to go downtown because there is a great pizza place everyone has been talking about. Being a Friday night, parking is terrible and therefore you guys have to park several blocks away and walk to the restaurant. You guys are just walking down the street, laughing, cutting up, and having a good time, then happen to look down an alley you are passing and you see and older man having sex with a small child. For all practical purposes, the gender of the child is not significant, but we will say the child is female and about eleven to thirteen years of age and the man’s appearance gives off the impression his is likely homeless and in his early forties.

Now, upon seeing this, I believe you will have basically one of three responses. These three responses can manifest many different ways, but you will respond with one of these three.

Response one; ignore the situation. Some people would see something like this and not want to get involved, or maybe they don’t want to be a witness in a trial, or they fell like it’s none of their business. There could be many reasons behind that decision, from a bad past experience, or being on parole, or witness protection, or what have you.

Response two; stand there and watch. Perhaps you are just too shocked by what you are seeing to respond. Maybe it’s intriguing and you just think it’s entertaining to see that actually happen in public. This is like when a fight breaks out in high school and so many people crowd around to be spectators. Some may not simply watch, but pull out their phone and record it on video.

Response three; intervene. Whether calling the police, yelling for help, making noise to draw attention to make the person stop, or actually physically confronting the person, you do something to stop this from happening.

Leading into these three responses, I also believe that there are several determining factors in how you will respond. There is the consideration of the type of person you are; introvert vs. extrovert. Next would be the group you are in, hence why I stated think about the group you are in typically on a Friday night. There is a dynamic there of how you see yourself within your group that can change how you would respond, like if you were the “leader” of the group, or if you would be more of a follower, seeing how a perceived leader responds before you do something. Then there is the dynamic of how you see your responsibility to the community as a whole. And there is the element of your personal moral compass.

Many of you might think that there is really only one response and you may believe that the majority of people, you friends included, would only respond the same way you would. But I think you would be surprised if you actually knew just how different people can be.

I cannot speak for anyone else; I can only tell you how I believe I would respond. I realize you never know how you are going to respond in any given situation until you are actually that specific situation, but I know how I would have me respond. Despite the group I am in, whether I am considered the “leader” or not, or even if I am by myself, I am going to intervene and stop that from happening. I would likely physically stop the person, and it would take considerable restraint for me not to enact my own version of justice right then and there in the form for a physical beat down without awaiting law enforcement.

Why?

Because despite whether I am the leader of the group or not, I am a leader, and as such, when I see something that requires action and no one else steps up, I will. And in this particular situation, I would not wait to make sure no one else would step up first. Regardless of if I am thought of as extroverted or introverted, confrontational or non-confrontational, there is a time for every season under the sun, and in that moment, the time is to act.

Because it is morally wrong. I know the human mind can, and will, justify anything, but I can state boldly that there is something (many things, actually) wrong with an older man having sex with a child in public. There are so many things wrong with that, it’s difficult to name them all.

Because I understand my role and responsibility to society. Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I have a responsibility—we have a responsibility—a mandate, a calling, a duty; to shape and mold and build the environment and community in which we live. This is our community. This is my community. This is my town, my city, my state, my nation, my planet. It was given to us by God and He charged us with its upkeep and development. And we are failing. We have a responsibility to not allow evil to exist. I have a responsibility. And rape and child molestation is evil.

How could I walk away? How could I just stand there? How could I do anything but act? What if that was your daughter? Your loved one? If we turn our heads when evil exist, we are not only permitting it; we might as well be participating in it with them. Do you know what signal apathy sends to those who do evil? If he saw my group and I look down the alleyway toward him as he did this and we just kept walking, he would get the impression what we are okay with this and he would believe what he’s doing to be socially acceptable. And once that becomes the norm, what’s next? We must be diligent in what we allow in our minds, in our hearts, in our households, and in our communities. We cannot raise a generation of hell and blame society when that hell becomes fully developed, bringing death. It starts with us. It starts with me.

That is why I cannot allow that to happen. I have a responsibility to not allow evil to triumph. Therefore, I must act. We must act.

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