Based on the communal nightmare that took place in my mother’s street (literally two doors down from her home) the other day; and, after seeing firsthand the ways in which panic and confusion can easily take over an already chaotic scenario, I have decided to take the initiative of beginning a “neighborhood panic button” for my own neighborhood. I do not foresee any situation in which a gunman takes, and subsequently murders a hostage – but my parents wouldn’t have foreseen it, either. I feel obligated in a sense to do this for one main reason: empathy. As an outsider who was caught alongside the insiders during this horrible event’s unfolding (a total of 13 hours by the time we were cleared to leave the vicinity), I can say with certainty that things could have been handled very differently in regard to the surrounding neighbors – by the surrounding neighbors. This had NOTHING to do with police actions that were littering any square of sidewalk for blocks in any direction, either…they did an impressive perimeter lockdown and had every resource at work from the time they arrived until they finally left during the wee morning hours the next day.
The issue I kept feeling like I was backhanded by was undoubtedly the overall lack of concern, cooperation, and/or compassion put forth by the very people that live there. It has never been a very close-knit neighborhood, despite what everyone is saying in the news since the incident. Nobody, save Abuela (the woman who was killed), my mother (not my step-father because he is as inti-social as it comes), a Slavic man with a tiny dog named Tiger, and two archaic elderly couples on either corner, even speak to one another regularly. The few people who behave neighborly to one another have only come to do so with a long passing of time and necessity (an earthquake, a car accident outside, etc.). People had no idea that Abuela was even in trouble, much less – that kind of trouble; my mother did not even hear the shots that killed her from two houses away…I swear to the Gods at one point early on in the stand-off, I heard the Korean man who lives in between my mom and the crime scene in his backyard sorting through his recyclables – I would have assumed he was completely oblivious to what was going on, but am positive that he knew because we had all been put on lock-down and the police had been in and through the houses surrounding Abuela’s, including my mom’s. I just feel like maybe if her neighborhood gave a little more of fuck about one another on a humanitarian level, things might have ended differently…I don’t know. What I do know is that THIS is prime example of why neighbors should be neighborly to one another during times of NON-CHAOS.
Empathy is a near extinct and quite unpopular notion, I know…but when are all these uppity, self-absorbed, judgmentally challenged idiots everywhere going to grasp the concept that it is, and always has been EMPATHY that sets human beings (as a species) apart from the rest – – – we are doomed undeniably if we let it fade to chaos.