Have We lost our Humanity?
By Ronald Yates
Last week I saw a news story that, at first, I found difficult to believe. A woman was raped while on a moving subway train inside a subway car filled with passengers. How could this have happened? Why would no one come to her aid? How could we sit idly by while another human was being violently assaulted? For some, in the law enforcement community, the crime of rape is just as heinous, if not more so than homicide. With death, there is a finality, but with rape, there is the constant fear, the loss of trust, the ever-present trepidation when trying to form contact with others. That person, be they male or female, is potentially horribly emotionally scarred for life. For this, as yet, unnamed woman it is probably a foregone conclusion that she has lost faith in humanity. I’m sure she has many of the same questions that you or I may have, but for the vast majority of us we will never have to relive the trauma. We can go on with our daily lives and over time what happened to her will fade from our memories and we will become engrossed with the next heinous crime.
With each horrendous event that is splashed across our giant screen televisions, we become a little bit more desensitized. The ability to reason, think, be consciencely aware, and be emotionally connected those things that make us human seem to be slipping away. It is as if we no longer care. There was a time when we knew our neighbors when we honored and respected one another. Today that honor and respect for people has been replaced by things. Gold, Diamonds, flashy cars, and designer clothing has much greater value than human life. It is a strange quirk in nature. Somehow, we will consume cheap food, but won’t put cheap gasoline into our cars. The emphasis is again on things and not necessarily the person in the car. For Black people, the legacy of Slavery, Jim Crow, and Segregation plays a major role in how we see ourselves and how the world us, and how the world perceives us. While many people, across the globe, have been enslaved, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was like no other. This form of enslavement was designed to dehumanize, degrade, and to maintain the institution psychologically long after emancipation. For the descendants of the enslaved, we were able to maintain close relationships, to support one another for generations; but by the waning days of the Civil Rights Movement, those ties began to break down. Now that we could shop in the major chain stores, we abandoned our local businesses. As a result, once-thriving communities became blighted, impoverished ghost towns. That is what happened to the Black Community, but what about the rest of America? When did they lose their souls? When did we stop caring about the elderly, or the very young? When did we forget the commandment to “Love our Neighbors?” Perhaps the real question is… did we ever have it? Did we ever really have humanity? Have we, in America, ever viewed one another as members of the human race, or have we always judged one another based on skin color?
As yet the race of the woman on the train has not been revealed, should it have mattered? Would the people on the train have reacted differently if her skin was lighter, or darker? If her eyes were oval-shaped or rounded if her hair was straight or kinky. Will the other passengers sleep better at night with the knowledge that she didn’t look like me, that she wasn’t a member of my tribe, so I was under no obligation to help her? We send our troops thousands of miles from home to protect people they know little about, in places with customs they know even less about, yet who fights for us at home, who fought for the woman on the train? If the election of Donald J. Trump taught us anything, it is that the worst in us can be brought to the surface and, once Pandora’s box is opened, closing it may not be possible.