"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." – Edmund Burke
I remember hearing a story on the news, or in the paper of a man that was beat to death on a bus.
The bus was full of people.
The people froze.
Perhaps it was paralyzing fear—perhaps it was selfishly they didn’t want to attract bodily harm. But in the moment of fight or flight in the witnessing of murder, no one choose to fight.
Everyone’s hands stuck like cement to their seats, immobile.
Their mouths lost the ability to speak, lacked the desire to shout, to act, to yell.
Their eyes averted—if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
The person was a killed, amidst twenty or so capable human.
Forty hands capable of stopping the murder, lessening the harm, intervening.
Instead, a soul left this planet uselessly and twenty humans went home to their own sheltered /safe lives.
Why do we do this?
Why do we hear someone scream in an alley at night, through the window, from our beds, our kitchens—hear a woman being raped, a man being mugged and turn the music up louder?
Tell ourselves it’s none of our business.
Put our pillows over our ears and try and go back to sleep.
For it is not us—it is someone else.
Why don’t we give a damn? Why don’t we take the opportunity to intervene, sometimes?
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein
I am a hyper sensitive person. I was told recently some call this an empath.
I internalize energy—especially conflict around me. It feels all consuming, like it’s in my heart, throwing its fists, instead of out there on the streets.
I am incredibly compassionate and sensitive to the well being of animals.
Dog fights make my heart cringe and my feet want to take off into the hot heat of the jungle and get in between the teeth, the fight, the harm.
Last night at the bed and breakfast in Costa Rica I was working in, I heard two people yelling.
It sounded like they knew each other, and it sounded like it was a couple.
I was doing yoga, by candlelight in the dark at our casita listening quietly to Jack Johnson.
It was my time to unwind, let go.
At first I heard the fighting and thought—let it go Janne. It’s your heart getting away with something that is not your business, it’s not as bad as you assume.
I tried to extract some of the care in my big beating heart to be present.
And then the screaming started.
It traveled through the waterfalls, the jungle, the hills—it robbed all energy from the earth.
It all went flat, and quiet and dark.
I stopped the music.
She screamed, again and again and again.
It wasn’t the screaming of an argument. It wasn’t the screaming of a broken heart. It wasn’t the screaming you hear when two people are passionately in the mess of turmoil.
It was the screaming you hear when someone is being raped.
It was the screaming you hear when someone is being stabbed.
It was the desperate screaming of someone afraid, and lacking control.
The dogs began to bark.
When there is a dog fight, other dogs can sense it and howl. Similar to how when coyotes yip and yell during/after a kill.
Trevor, the dog at the casita, began to howl.
He felt it. I felt it.
The other two women volunteering at the butterfly garden came to find me.
Their guts echoing my own.
There was a moment; similar to perhaps a moment some felt on the bus—where I thought, “perhaps this isn’t my business. Perhaps calling the police is silly.”
I would like to say clearly and loudly that the well being of humanity is our business.
It’s my business, and your business—it’s the entire fucking worlds business.
We are all interconnected beyond what we can comprehend or know.
We feel the tense knot in our stomach in conflict because we feel it, inside.
What we feel inside is compassion, empathy and the knowing—they are one of us.
Again, my brain went, “It’s quiet now, perhaps it’s over. What’s the use?”
But I picked up the phone, and called.
I called because there is always a use.
There is always a use to asking if one is okay, if they need help.
I am writing this to challenge the world to look up, to listen, to move, to act.
For when we see something within our control—we should get involved.
Turn the music down today and tomorrow, hear the pain of our world and do your part in bringing justice.
My part yesterday was picking up a phone and dialing 911.
It took an hour of my time, to extend care back into the world.
I do not know if this woman will feel the effect of me reaching.
But I hope, that if I was helpless, with a fist beating down—that someone would hear my cries for help and choose to give a damn.
Blood curdling screams
echo from the night
I sit in pigeon
In the darkness
It’s only your empath heart
again and again
not the yelling of a broken heart
but the yelling of harm
I stop the music
listen into the night
water drips from a leaf
from the one’s we don’t save
fighting in the night
I think of the man
down the hill
pulled from his washing machine
it took three people
he didn’t drown
did he scream?
did everyone lie their heads back on their pillows
shut their ears politely?
frozen in fear
or did they reach back into the world
and fight back?
I fought back for her