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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: July 15, 2007                                     ב"ה - א' באב, תשס"ז

 
 
 
   
 

What Happened to

Our Respect for Life?


Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

There are times that I read a news story that is so shocking it is hard to believe. Just recently I read such an article - an AP news item titled, "Kansas Shoppers Step Over Dying Woman"

 

It seems that while stabbing victim LaShanda Calloway, 27, lay dying on the floor of a convenience store, five shoppers, including one who stopped to take a picture of her with a cell phone, stepped over her.

What's even more fascinating is that the June 23 situation, captured on the store's surveillance video, got almost no news coverage until a columnist for The Wichita Eagle disclosed the existence of the video and its contents.

 

"It was tragic to watch," police spokesman Gordon Bassham said Tuesday. "The fact that people were more interested in taking a picture with a cell phone and shopping for snacks rather than helping this innocent young woman is, frankly, revolting."


It took about two minutes for someone to call 911.


The district attorney's office will have to decide whether any of the shoppers could be charged, Bassham said. It was uncertain what law, if any, would be applicable. A state statute for failure to render aid refers only to victims of a car accident.

 

"This is just appalling," Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams told the newspaper. "I could continue shopping and not render aid and then take time out to take a picture? That's crazy. What happened to our respect for life?"

 

Though this happened in Kansas it probably could have happened anywhere. The lack of respect for another human being is unfortunately seen in many places when people push each other in an effort to get into a crowded train. It is seen when people watch a crime take place and do nothing to help. Road rage is another ugly response that shows  no reverence for the value of another person. I live in a big city, so I'm not unaware of such actions.

 

A friend of mine shared another horrific story with me that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. A man dropped dead of a heart attack at a betting table and no one stopped playing to see if they could help!

 

Stories like these are illuminating. Not just because they show a patent lack of respect for another human being, but a total disregard for human life. It's quite possible that even if Calloway had received immediate help she wouldn't have survived the stabbing, but to stand and watch the very life flow out of another human being while you walk right by?

"Where does this horrendous disregard for human life stem from? How did we reach a point where five shoppers step over a wounded and dying woman? Where did the appalling lack of value for human life come from?"


The fact that no news agency took this story seriously until a video turned up highlights another issue. No one's word is taken at face value. We haven't just lost our sense of humanity we have lost our trust in basic testimony of others. The ugly actions surrounding LaShanda Calloway were not even considered news until it was known that there was "proof."

 

The Kansas story had an awful ending, but the tragedy didn't start here. This lack of respect for another living and breathing human being started before June 23, 2007. It started with the lack of respect for the unborn human life. And the lack of respect for the lives of the disabled. And the elderly. And the infirm. There is even a new term "Mercy Killing" describing the murder of those who have lost their "quality of life."  I guess the Kansas shoppers felt that once the woman was dying there was nothing left to do other than gawk and make sure they have good real time pictures of the tragedy.


That the district attorney's office has to question if charges can be filed is heartrending! What a tragic question! Even if the district attorney's office decides that no charges can be filed against those people I can press some charges myself. How about a lack of humanity? An immense quantity of self centeredness? Callousness and indifference to the suffering of others?


In answer to Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams' query of "What happened to our respect for life?" the only correct answer is "Good question!"

 
 

 


Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

Rabbi Hecht's Website:  www.sheahecht.com  

 

 
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