Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slightly Off Topic...

But if I don't write about it somewhere I don't know what I'll do.

Today, the topic is apathy in the face of cruelty.

Earlier this week I witnessed the most terrifying event I think I've ever seen.  I was walking around San Francisco, and out of the blue I saw two twenty-something year old men beating a man who appeared to be homeless.  They maced him, threatened to stab him with the screw driver they were holding, and began to stomp on his head.  People were standing a safe distance away and just staring as this man was being attacked.  9-1-1 was called, but when would the police or an ambulance get here?  My heart started pounding in my chest.  I knew that if someone didn't intervene this man could die.  The woman standing next to me locked eyes with mine and in that moment we both knew what was about to happen.

I don't know what exactly came over me but for the next 5 minutes I became someone different.

This woman and I charged forward, like two warriors leading an army.  We were screaming, were they words?  I can't remember.  I just kept thinking that this man cannot die while a crowd of people just watches.

 Our screaming worked.  The men took off.

The victim laid on the ground not moving or saying a word at first.  My heart stopped.  Had we been too late?  He started to stir.  We propped him up.  I have never seen a face so badly broken before.  I've seen movies and pictures of violence but this was nothing like it.  The blood, the pain, the bruising it was just astonishing in the worst of ways.  It was not make up, it was real.  Another human being did this with his hands and feet while others stood by and watched.  I don't know what prompted this violence, but I'm sure it didn't justify what was done.

This experience made me think about a lot of things.  First of all,  I have an uncle who has been chronically homeless since the 90s.  He is homeless due to alcoholism, and I know he has his days where people clutch their purses tightly, walk by quickly, with their eyes averted.  We've all done it.  However, if he were being attacked I hope that those averted eyes would not ignore him.

No one deserves the cruelty I saw that day.

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