Where Have Our Better Angels Gone?

On Friday, May 30, 78-year-old Angel Torres tried to make his way across a busy street in Hartford, Connecticut. A surveillance tape shows two cars crossing a double line. The first appears to graze Mr. Torres. The second hits him straight-on; Mr. Torres bounces up onto and off the top of the car and then down to the street, as if in a Hollywood movie. And both cars keep moving. As do the other cars on the street. As do several pedestrians. One person walks to the edge of the sidewalk, as if to get a better look at Mr. Torres lying in the street, and then turns and walks away. A few people did call 9-1-1, and Mr. Torres was soon taken to a hospital. He is now paralyzed.

This is just the latest outrage of our increasingly coarsened culture. David Sharp struggles with his oxygen tank on Mount Everest, and his fellow climbers pass him by. Renald Charles drowns rescuing his sons from a riptide, and tourists videotape his desperate efforts. LaShanda Calloway lies bleeding on a convenience store floor, and her fellow shoppers step over her to reach the sales counter.

All around us, in the city, on the ocean, atop a mountain, selfishness reigns, as people regard another’s suffering and death as an inconvenience, a curiosity, or nothing of consequence at all.

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2 thoughts on “Where Have Our Better Angels Gone?

  1. One wonders what is going through the mind of a US soldier bleeding to death in the streets of Basra as we fret and bite our nails over one elderly gentlemen.

    Where was this indignation when the media and our government lied us into a war? Almost 4500 dead Americans, an estimated 1.5 million dead Iraqis, and thousands more with lasting wounds…

    …and you’re worried about a car accident? I guess its easier to blame “the culture” than to realize you’re part of it, right?

    Get your priorities straight, citizen. Your outrage is disgusting.

  2. I wonder if at least part of it isn’t motivated by fear of getting sued. That is: bystander sees victim, bystander ties to help victim but inadvertently does something that hurts the victim worse; victim, or victim’s family, later sues bystender for everything they have.

    Yes, I know about Good Samaritan laws, but the details and level of protection they provide vary widely, and most people are unlikely to know the law in their jurisdiction. And yes, the victim would look like a jerk for trying to sue someone who just tried to help, but that never stopped some people.

    The bystanders here may have simply felt that it wasn’t worth that risk to try and help. Which in no way excuses their behavior, but offers some small insight into their possible motives.

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