One Sunday, a minister began his sermon in this way: "I'd like to make three points today. First, there are millions of people around the world who are going to hell. Second, most of us sitting here today do not give a damn about it." After a lengthy pause he continued: "My third point is that you are more concerned that I, your pastor, said the word damn than you are about the millions of people going to hell."
I looked up a farm one day,
that once I used to own;
the barn had fallen to the ground,
the fields were overgrown.
The house in which my children grew,
where we had lived for years . . .
I turned to see it broken down,
and brushed aside the tears.
I looked upon my soul one day to find it too had grown,
with thorns and nettles everywhere, the seeds neglect had sown.
The years had passed while I had cared for things of lesser worth.
The things of heaven I let go while minding things of earth.
To Christ I turned with bitter tears and cried, "O Lord, forgive!"
I have not much time left for Thee, not many years to live.
The wasted years forever gone, The days I can't recall.
If I could live those days again, I'd make Him Lord of all.
It has been more than 20 years since Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in a suburb of New York City, but her tragic death continues to be a symbol of public apathy.
In the early morning hours of March 13, 1964 she returned home from work. A man attacked her with a knife. She screamed, "Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!"
Lights in apartments went on. The killer left momentarily. No one came to her aid. When the lights were out again, the killer returned and stabbed her again. She screamed for help. Lights came on again. The killer fled but returned a third time to inflict the fatal wounds as Genovese lay slumped at the door of an apartment where she had crawled for safety.
During the 35 minute ordeal, 38 people watched or heard all or part of the attack. No one came to her rescue. Social scientists launched studies to explain the Kitty Genovese "phenomenon." They attributed it to feelings of anonymity, being out of touch with other people and a public refusal to take responsibility.
Some witnesses later said, "We were afraid," "I was tired," "We didn't want to get involved."
"In most cases," said Richard Uviller, professor at the Columbia University School of Law, "doing nothing still is not a crime."
The Bible says, "To him that knowth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17).
I curl up on a comfortable couch Unaware of those who crouch In the dark, alone in the park, With nowhere to go . . .
Inside my bed I cover my head And shut out cries of the dying and dead The wail of the midnight specials: Grass for sale, Bodies for sale, Souls for sale, Going, going, gone. . . .
Jonah sleeps upon the deep, Do not wake the baby . . .
- Judith A. Olin