Monday, January 17, 2011

When Is It Our Business?

Where does its not my business end and moral obligation begin?

That is what I have been pondering since last week’s tragic events.  Immediately after Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded a dozen more we began to learn more about what he was thinking.  He had posted plenty of writings and videos on his MySpace page and YouTube.  It was readily apparent to most of us, that Mr. Loughner was very unwell.  I wondered where were his friends and family and what they had done to get him help? 

Clearly anybody who had any close personal contact with this young man must have been aware that he was in need of serious psychological intervention.   

Over the past week we have learned that he had had numerous incidents at his university in which he frightened and intimidated his fellow students as well as instructors, prompting the school to send four campus security guards to the Laughner house to inform Jared that he would not be permitted to return to school until he could provide a letter stating that he was not a threat to himself or others. 

He was.

CNN quotes from Laughner’s Algebra and Logic instructors:

Laughner "needed psychological help," and McGahee said he was not surprised to hear his former student was the suspect in Saturday's bloodbath.”
Kent Slinker said: “Loughner often spoke out of turn and asked questions unrelated to the class topic, leading Slinker to assume the student had Tourette Syndrome.   (Not even close!)
"I was never able to talk to him on a one-to-one basis and I did worry about him a lot," he said. "I do recall thinking I hope his parents know what's going on and that they have a handle on things."”

They didn’t.

But not once did his concerned instructors contact his parents to see if “they had a handle on things”.  School officials thought he was enough of a threat that they sent FOUR safety officers to the Laugner house to deliver that letter stating that he could not return to school with out a psychological evaluation, but they failed to call Arizonian’s mental health hotline and report him as a person in need of evaluation.  Neither of those actions would have guaranteed that Saturday’s massacre would not have occurred, but it just may have gotten a very ill person on the right track.

And that is the thing about preventative measures, when they work well nothing happens; when nobody is killed, when a child is not abused, when the drunk gets home safely.  

Where is the glory in nothing?

Is that what keeps so many of us from stepping out there and following through?  Getting involved?  Making the call?  Taking the keys? 

We don’t want to risk looking foolish, being wrong, and overreacting.  We don’t want to lose face, friendships or family ties.

Because if our intuition is correct and we step in and do the right thing – tragedy is avoided, the worst doesn’t happen, it is proof we were wrong and everything would have worked out anyway.  We look like fools.

If we our intuition is on and we do nothing and the worst happens we get to shrug our shoulders and say “I told you so” and “I knew something like this was bound to happen”, we get to look like the smartest person in the room, and isn’t that worth a little blood on your hands?

When Is It Our Business?
What would it take to make you willing to step in and make a tough call?  
What would you be willing to lose to do the right thing?

Powered by Blogger