See something wrong? Do something right

It was another insightful Torah study lesson recently coming to a close when the question arose, “What obligation do we have when it comes to witnessing a wrong being committed against someone, perhaps a person we don’t even know?”
Of course, as you might expect, everyone seemed supportive of the mitzvah of aiding a person in need.
“In real life, that doesn’t always happen,” I thought to myself … and instantly knew the subject of my next article.
Just before the Bible study group broke up, someone mentioned the tragic Kitty Genovese case of 1964, wherein late one night, “38 apartment dwellers in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, witnessed the assault and murder of a young woman and not one person bothered to call the police or come to the victim’s aid.”
At least that was the story appearing in the highly respected New York Times — “If it’s in the Times, it must be true” — but it was not completely true.
By the time the police investigation had been completed, and The New York Times had admitted gross inaccuracies in its earlier story, it was too late. Everyone already believed that no one called police or tried to help, which was untrue.
The belief had been planted that people living in densely populated centers were becoming indifferent to the needs of others, thinking of themselves as “bystanders.”
If you wish to learn more about the truth of the Kitty Genovese case, the Dallas Public Library has an excellent book, No One Helped by Marcia Gallo. Also, a prize-winning 2015 documentary, The Witness, can be found on Netflix.
In today’s real world, given the easy access to weapons as well as those individuals and groups willing to use them, we have no choice but to follow the advice of law enforcement: “If you see something, say something.”
This rings especially true in light of the recent gunman’s attack at a Congressional baseball practice in an Alexandria, Virginia park.
The question, as always, will be asked, “Did anyone see or hear something before the attack?” If so, was it reported?
While we may feel that it is highly unlikely that we would ever be caught up in a terrorist attack, there is a greater possibility that we will see or hear something, as we go about our daily lives, that we know is wrong, but will we do or say something about it?
John Quinones of ABC’s What Would You Do has a program setting up situations in public, using actors to simulate abusive or immoral behavior against another person.
How will unknowing onlookers react to the public display of mistreatment or cruelty? Will they look on, but say nothing, or will they do something by confronting the guilty?
The next time you see something suspicious or someone being unkind, what will you do?

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