Moral Responsibility

January 13, 2009
By Rachel Kautz, Hartland, WI

When thirty-eight people see a woman stabbed to death outside their domicile and do nothing to stop it or help the situation, moral responsibility is questioned. Why didn’t someone call the police when they saw the assailant the first time? Why didn’t anyone help?
According to the article, “38 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police,” thirty-five minutes elapsed in which the murderer has three chances to kill the woman. Three chances and the only thing a neighbor did was to sporadically call out the window and yell, “Let that girl alone!” After the lurid event, the ambulance came to pick up the dead body of the woman that was stabbed to death. Only then, after the ambulance had left, did the neighbors finally come out to the street to discuss the night’s events.
Since this country was founded on mainly Christian beliefs, the government officials believe it is the people’s duty to help those who are in danger. It is seen as common sense. In such an occurrence where a crime is committed, detectives need meticulous details of the incident. The witnesses can help the detective to understand what happened. However, when the witnesses merely witness and do nothing to obviate death, when they clearly could have, the detectives are left baffled and even more deeply disturbed.
“I didn’t want to get involved” is what one man told police. When placed in an unexpected situation, individuals don’t know what to do. Some make rash decisions, analyze the situation, or stop thinking altogether. Can we really blame them for not making best decision when we have not witnessed it ourselves? No, that would simply be a conjecture.
Moral responsibility is based on an individual’s own values and beliefs. Whether or not this idea is lax, the individual will not succumb to other judgments made. If a Christian was asked if they would help a situation, most would answer yes. The question they can’t answer, however, is how and to what extent. If the witness though, thought clearly and was in the right state of mind, they have every reason to help.

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