The Death of Responsibility

On January 28, 2010 fifteen year old Aiesha Steward-Baker was brutally beaten and robbed by a group of teens in a Seattle bus tunnel.   Anyone who has watched the news over the past week, has likely seen the horrific video of this young girl being beaten within an inch of her very life as three security guards in reflector vests looked on.   As she was beaten, other members of the assailing group stole her purse, her cell phone, and her i-Pod.  Though the assault of Ms Steward-Baker was most certainly a heinous crime, an equal if not worse offense was the inaction of the “security” guards who witnessed the beating.  How could this possibly happen in a civilized society?  How could grown adults stand by and not physically intervene in such a horrible assault?  How could a group of thugs beat and rob a young girl mere inches from security guards twice their size?  The answer is tragic yet simple:

Responsibility Is Dead

The security guards, defended their lack of action by stating that they were following their directives, but this excuse is nothing but a legalistic veneer covering over a deeper cancer that seems to be emerging in our society – a lack of concern or responsibility for others. It is actually worse than a “lack of concern.” In many cases, we have learned to take sick voyeuristic pleasure in the pain and sufferings of  our fellow man.  It is almost a hobby in our culture these days to watch others go through hardship.

We have “Ultimate Fighters,” not out fighting evil, but beating the hell out of each other in gladiatorial type television events.  We watch shows like  Snapped, Gangland, First 48, Forensic Files, and Lock Up which exploit the very worst elements in our society and, in a perverted way, even dare to celebrate them.  We buy our children video games with names like Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto which glorify violence and death.   Even more disturbingly, we go to movies like Saw and laugh as we watch people dismember themselves.  Some studies show that, by the time an American child is finished with grade school, they have witnessed over 8,000 murders on television.   We are no longer a society of caring participants, but rather one of desensitized onlookers putting a psychological television screen between us and world.   Instead of getting involved in promoting what is right, and yes I am talking about moral absolutes, we stand aside passively and wait for someone else to fix the problem. It’s not our responsibility.

We cannot solely blame our media and entertainment industries for the death of responsibility however.   It is also due to the growth of secular liberalism, and its companion moral relativism, in our politics and culture.   In a world of “relative”  godless morals after all, who is to say what is right and wrong?  If there is no absolute right and wrong, we are only left with individual choice, and who is to say whether one individual’s choice is better than another’s?  There is not a right and wrong, but rather, “rights and wrongs” each are highly dependent on the circumstance.

In addition to the moral relativism that liberal secularism promotes, there is also a more insidious problem.  Put simply, it is engineered antipathy for others.   In the book Destructive Generation authors David Horowitz and Peter Collier showed how extremists groups like the Weather Underground actively waged war on concepts such as love and responsibility.  In a speech defending his beliefs, Obama’s friend Bill Ayers once said:

“Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective.”

As Jamie Glazov points out in his Front Page Magazine post Hating Valentine’s this concept has been central to revolutionary movements around the world.  The Soviet Union saw concepts of love and marriage as detrimental to the state, and Chairman Mao dressed his disciples in unisex clothing to de-emphasize the individual for the good of the collective. Even Hillary Clinton embraces this collectivist notion in her book, It Takes a Village, when she states:

“Children exist in the world as well as in the family. From the moment they are born, they depend on a host of other “grown-ups” — grandparents, neighbors, teachers, ministers, employers, political leaders, and untold others who touch their lives directly and indirectly. Adults police their streets, monitor the quality of their food, air, and water, produce the programs that appear on their televisions, run the businesses that employ their parents, and write the laws that protect them. Each of us plays a part in every child’s life: It takes a village to raise a child.”

Though it may sound less revolutionary coming from Hillary than Bill Ayers, the concept is the same.  Individual responsibility is somehow subordinate to the role of the state. The parent’s responsibility is deemphasized while the importance of the collective, or village, is highlighted.  So, if your kid runs off and beats up another kid at a bus station, it is not your fault mom and dad! The village failed.

So, not only have we desensitized ourselves to human suffering, but we have also tossed away our moral absolutes and turned in our individual responsibilities for the greater good of the collective.   This is why things like the bus stop beating of Ms. Steward-Baker can take place.  It was not the security guard’s responsibility to stop the fight,  it was the collective’s.  So they put their individual humanity away for “policy”  and watched the movie.  As far as their sense of personal responsibility…game over.

Our nation is great because our founders understood that, with freedom, came great responsibility.   They forged a society based on the premise that every person had certain God given rights and, with those rights, clear cut responsibilities to each other.  It was this sense of responsibility that defeated slavery,  destroyed tyranny in Europe and the Pacific, and sparked the civil rights movement. Today, it still forms the very premise of our Constitution.

So, as you watch the Seattle beating video, look closely at the security guards.  There is no sense of humanity, no sense of personal responsibility, and no sense whatsoever of their duty to their fellow human beings. They have been programmed to believe in their “system” more than the life and safety of a young girl. It is a cancer of the human spirit that strips us of our dignity and leaves us swimming in our own amoral waste. It reduces human beings to nothing more than herd animals, making us far less than our Creator designed us to be.   This beating video, though minor on the scale of great world tragedies, is a warning to us nonetheless. It gives all of us a brief blurry glimpse of a world that none of us want to live in.  But most importantly, it reminds us that good and evil are forces that we control every day of our lives, and that each of us is responsible for the one we choose.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”    – Edmund Burke PoliticalBlogger Alliance