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Hit and Run and Ignore?

It took me a few days to figure out I could talk about this story [1] without referring to the AP article… fortunately, a local newspaper (The Hartford Courant) web site covered the story along with the video. I’ve had several people mention this story to me via email.

So, two cars are racing around and a gentleman gets hit by one of them. Pretty routine, happens all the time. What was unusual was the lack of any helpful response by the crowd.

So, what’s happening here? Why would a crowd of people just circle around or walk by someone clearly in need without coming close enough to even convey a sense of belonging to the same race?

Those in the community of Hartford, Connecticut are expressing regret and shame over this, and I’m glad they are bothered by it. But fundamentally, this is another reflection of the state of decline our society is in. Not so much because people are “bad” as much as people are just not accustomed to direct contact with strangers in general let alone getting close enough to actually aid someone in distress.

We are becoming more accustomed to teaching our children, and as a result ourselves, to stay far away from strangers. We are fearful of any stranger that is bleeding for any reason because we may become infected by some unknown disease. Knowing full well the types of situations people can find themselves in, we lack good “civilian” training in first aid, which was once considered essential.

And we’ve become more and more subtly accustomed to minding our own business. Because perhaps we’ll get sued for doing something wrong. Perhaps someone will retaliate against us for doing something to help their enemy.

Good Samaritan laws [2], according to the TortsProf Blog, provide some protection. In some areas, such laws actually require assistance [3] be provided (from the Ex Post Blog):

…the type that exists in many countries (most notably, Canada) and that are becoming more prominent in the US today. Good Samaritan laws describe a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress, unless doing so would put them in harm’s way. Good Samaritan laws, in certain parts of the nation, actually refer to laws that require citizens to assist individuals who need help (think Massachusetts, a la Seinfeld series finale.)

It’s sad to think that we need laws that force people to behave in a manner that many yet (including myself) simply expect of others, and at one time was considered “normal”.

But normal is gone. Proper, essential, appropriate behaviors are no longer considered the default response for a growing segment of society.

I think the general uproar is good, the response in Hartford is appropriate, but what can we do to stem the tide? I fear little, but the point we must always see is that we cannot give up. Keep doing what is right.

I believe that Isaac Asimov was sort of a social prophet. If you’ve read his science fiction, you’ll find that he immersed himself in theories of social order, which he proposed in varying degrees in his Foundation Series, and others. Most relevant here would be his Robot Series, about a future where people on Earth live indoors, and colonists have seeded many worlds in space.

And one of those worlds, in the book “The Naked Sun [4]‘, was a planet called Solaria where everyone is tended by robots, and no one has personal contact with any other human beings. Not physically. They do talk via holographic communications, but never in person. The society decayed severely (as depicted in a later work titled “Foundation and Earth [5]“) over time and the Solarians eventually altered themselves genetically to become hermaphrodites (providing the ability to self-reproduce).

I’m just saying.