Sunday, June 22, 2008

a new silent majority

Each day we are bombarded with rough news. As of late, images and accounts of victims in Myanmar and the Sichuan Province in China have filled the pages of news publications and airtime on every news program. Watching people pick up shards of what is left of their homes and parents grieve over the loss of their only child - is not easy to ignore.

To look at the vast response in aid for such disasters - as for disasters of the past - one would not consider this world one of insensitivity.

In America - especially - one might not think. We are the nation of Pearl Harbor. Of Civil Rights. Of September 11th. We are the nation that sat in shame as we watched our own suffer through Hurricane Katrina and our hearts go out when we hear reports like that of a tornado that ripped through a Boy Scout camp Wednesday in Blencoe, Iowa. We are supposed to care about each other.

There is no comparison of one tragedy to another. Still, one image that remains in mind as of late is that of Angel Arce Torres, known to his friends and family in Hartford Connecticut as "Ponce."

On May 30, police surveillance video in Hartford captured a truly harrowing scene of two cars - one that looked to be chasing after the other - on the wrong side of the street. The first vehicle narrowly misses Ponce as he is crossing the street. The second does not. The video shows the 78-year-old as he is hit by the second vehicle - tossed into the air like a rag doll over the windshield and left in the middle of the street - as both cars speed off leaving him there.

The video is - quite frankly -nauseating. And what's worse is the scene in the moments to come ... as people stare at the elderly resident lying in the middle of the street and do what appears to be nothing. An estimated nine cars pass by Ponce - some having to move around him to continue on their way.

Details about the incident help alleviate the shock. Reports that four people called 911 as soon as they witnessed the incident. The fact that it took police reportedly minutes to get to the scene, the Hartford police chief classifying the incident as "inhumane."

Are we on our own road to dehumanization? Some could consider the Hartford hit 'n run an isolated incident - but is it? I have to believe that there remains a silent majority. That majority being the ones we don't hear about - who wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing they are responsible for the reported paralyzing of a 78-year-old man. A father. A friend.

I have to believe that the number of the vigilant outnumbers that of the predators. That the do-gooders are actively trying to do good. I have to believe they have even more power than those with the freshly starched lapels and crisp white shirts and bold ties who flash their pearly whites as they make their way to Washington. It's not that I don't have faith in government - it's that Washington is a far way from home.

There's a lot of questioning going on in the area about police coverage in the township and complaints about crime. Is it just the typical start of summer? The warm weather making it easier for criminals to go out and do what they do ... create crime? Or is it something else entirely? Or worse - signs of a society that simply doesn't care anymore?

I have to believe that there exists a silent majority. I have to believe that silent majority is just waiting for its time to come ... when it will take back dignity and virtue and human decency. It will declare it unacceptable to drive past a man lying on the street. It will remind us that we are all fathers, mothers, husbands and wives. We are all someone's child. Someone's friend.

I have to believe in that it is just a 'silent' majority. Because to believe otherwise - is something I - and I would hope all of us - are not yet willing to do.

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