Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Man in the Mirror

You read or watched it last week-dateline Hartford, CT about the hit and run victim who was more or less left on the street by passers-by. The link with the video I found is from from the LA Times and, as is so often the case these days with web videos, is sponsored and begins with a commercial for Chevy trucks, using John Mellencamp's This Is Our Country.

That cuts a little closer to home and truer to the bone than many of us would like, I think. Quite frankly, and I apologize if you feel I'm crass when I suggest this, I was more than a little surprised we didn't see people robbing the person prone in the street--so many are shocked that it seemed to take so long for anyone to even get close enough to see if Angel Arce Torres, the victim, was even still alive--I just assumed someone would take advantage of the moment.

I wasn't yet a teenager when an attack on and murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY, told all of us just where we were in the Spring of 1964--that it was forty-four years ago, but in so many ways is so similar to the violence visited upon Mr. Torres and the reaction to that violence, doesn't speak well for us having learned very much or very well, despite all those years. The police chief of Hartford was quoted as saying 'we have lost our moral compass' and because of who he is and what he and his officers have to see and do everyday, I defer to his assessment. But I don't think it happened yesterday, or the day before.

I'm not sure we can stop the descent into the abyss--I'm not even sure we can decelerate the speed at which it is happening and make no mistake, it is. Listen to how we talk to one another now-both the tenor and tone of the conversation. Pay attention the next time you hear two people having a disagreement and count the seconds before they go from disagreeing to being disagreeable.

Next time behind the wheel of a vehicle, watch yourself or one another as we all work together in traffic. Me, yield so you can get in front of me as the traffic jam worsens? Not on a bet! Cut me off, willya? Didja see that guy? He just flipped me off, that son of a bi---! Or even worse, we go from angry words and gestures to road rage and uncontrolled violence.

It didn't happen overnight-but a bit at a time every night and every day for decades. We've gotten a little coarser and little cruder--we have had a little less patience and a bit more irritation with our fellow travelers on this Big Blue Marble. And then, suddenly (except it really wasn't that sudden) we're watching Angle Arce Torres get hit by a speeding vehicle on a street in the capital of the State of Connecticut and trying to understand how such a thing could happen.

The public safety camera provided not only surveillance video, but in a terrible and twisted way, a magnification mirror whose reflection shows people we'd rather not meet but whose every thought we already know, because we are these and those people.
Is the image I'm making the image I see? When the man in the mirror is talking to me?
-bill kenny

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