Our Brother’s Keeper


Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 9.30.29 PMAnyone who watches the news for just a few minutes has probably seen the heart-breaking story about the young woman at the University of Virginia who disappeared last week.  Hannah Graham had texted her friends, telling them she was lost.  They did nothing.  Fact is, even when they knew she was lost, they did not bother checking up on her, not for a couple days.  They assumed she was fine.  She was obviously impaired.

Someone in a restaurant then allowed a 31-year-old man to purchase – illegally – an adult beverage for an 18-year-old girl who was obviously impaired.  This is also illegal.  Where is the bar’s responsibility for violating the law, serving drinks to minors and to someone who had already had one too many?

She needed help.  She needed someone to help her get home, safely.  Her friends did absolutely nothing.  They were too busy having fun to lift a finger to help her.  She has disappeared, and is more than likely no longer even alive.  While they cops have a primary subject in mind, her friends, who ignored the fact that she needed help, are just as much to blame as is who ever harmed her.

They never bothered to help, even though several young women have disappeared, obviously the target of a serial killer.  No one lifted a finger to make sure she arrived home, safely.  In California, a kid shared his lunch with a friend, who wanted something different to eat.  He was punished for being a good Samaritan.

Ray Rice beat the you-know-what out of his then fiance, now wife.  I’m not going to get into the abject stupidity and culpability of a woman who knows what a man is and goes ahead and marries him.  This is NOT a discussion about his behavior, but the behavior of the security staff of the hotel where he was staying.  Elevators like that are monitored.  Where was hotel security?

I’ve been in big-time high-end casino hotels.  You can’t sneeze, turn around, or even look at someone without bumping into security.  They are everywhere. Where were they when this big-time football star was beating the woman?  Did they not come to her aid because he was a big-shot million dollar football baby, and she was just a woman?  Did they turn a blind eye because of his importance?

I am loath to mention this, but we are our brother’s keeper.  As civilized humans who pretend to be enlightened, we have a certain responsibility for the well-being of those around us, even if we don’t know who they are.   Wendy White is a young mezzo who made it all the way to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.  In 2011, she fell, while on stage.  The accident was not her fault.  She was required to file a lawsuit to even get back pay, let alone rehab costs, and compensation over the destruction of her operatic career.

If White had been a professional or college football player we would still be hearing about the story.  Because she sings opera, no one apparently cared, including the management of the Metropolitan Opera.  Instead of standing up for her, the various truly snotty opera blogs simply made fun of her.

Doing the right thing is rarely easy. In our society today, doing the right thing has been discouraged by all political factions, including the far right and religious right.  We have lost a sense of right and wrong when it deals with our own personal discomfort.

People like to talk, to was poetic about the break-down of our society, when they might be more a part of the problem than the cure.  Perhaps one of the factors that makes the theology of doing the right thing even worse is our love of the celebrity culture.  One simply cannot discomfort the important football player, or mention that the rock star is a total ass, or that all important far right Christian conservative political leader is a total and complete jerk.  Our society must not disturb the rich and powerful, no matter how corrupt they are.  After all, we worship the rich, powerful, and the celeb.  Unimportant people like the rest of us no longer count.  We’re nothing but cannon fodder.