Recent news stories remind us we all have responsibility

Published 6:27 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

At first glance, they seem like completely separate stories. At Penn State, a university is mired in a scandal after a former assistant football coach is accused of sexually abusing young boys. In a West Virginia Walmart on Black Friday, a 61-year-old man collapses of a heart attack and eventually dies after countless shoppers ignore his fallen body. At Florida A&M University, a college student is killed after a reported incident of “hazing.”

In all three instances, a real tragedy could have possibly been prevented if just one person had stepped in and called the police or alerted a higher authority.

Irish philosopher Edmund Burke is believed to have said, “All that is necesary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

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Stories like these typically evoke a similar reaction in many of us: “If I was there, I would have helped!” or “If I was there, I would have called the police!” Of course, it’s easy to say these things, but is it really true that we would make the right choice in the heat of the moment?

How many of us have driven by a stranded vehicle on the road, thinking, “I’m sure someone else has already been called to help?” How many of us have seen a fight in progress and thought, “It’s none of my business, I’ll stay out of it.” How many of us have seen trash on the ground and said, “Someone else will pick it up.”

During this Christmas season, let’s all try to be “good men” and “do something” whenever we are given that chance. Maybe then, these sad and sobering stories will no longer have to be written.