Saturday, June 07, 2008

It is Time to Wake Up!

On May 30th in Hartford, Connecticut, Angel Torres, 78, was struck by a speeding car as he was crossing the street. The car that struck him appeared to be participating in a car chase, ran a red red light, struck Mr. Torres then continued in chase of the other car. Mr. Torres is in critical condition and now paralyzed from the neck down. What is more shocking about this incident is that there is a video from a surveillance camera that shows many pedestrians standing by and doing nothing. Mr. Torres lay in the street, while cars and people moved on by.

This incident makes my stomach turn. It is a very sharp picture of what our society has become. In one of the articles about the incident, a witness said that he didn't want to approach Mr. Torres because he was bleeding heavily and didn't feel skilled enough to help him. Other people said they called 911. But, no one approached him. No one came over to him and comforted him while professional help arrived. The video is graphic, but the most disturbing and upsetting image to me, is when a crowd of people eventually approach Mr. Torres cautiously, as though he might carry the plague. No one bent down to him to assure him that help was on the way. Someone interviewed said that he didn't approach Mr. Torres because he could see he was conscious. Can you imagine how Mr. Torres must have felt? He was conscious during the whole incident, which meant that he was likely aware of all the people just standing there, with cars driving by, while he lay bleeding and probably believing he was dying. You can see the video and read one of the many articles here. Please watch this video, as disturbing as it might be, it is important to see how we have allowed our society to disintegrate. We can no longer ignore that this kind of thing happens all too often.

Things have to change. Normally, in my writing I try to focus on the positive aspects of life, as there is so much sensationalizing of the negative. But, I believe this incident cannot be ignored. It is time to start thinking if this is really the world we want to be living in. It is the world we are creating. Are we satisfied with a world where people are so desensitized and demoralized that an injured person goes ignored? Some might argue about fears of getting involved, about the possible repercussions of helping. I say it is time to get over them. It is no excuse.

Last year, while walking home me and some friends witnessed someone fall in the street. I ran over to him and realized he was having a seizure. I admit that I don't know a lot about how to handle the situation, but I immediately called 911. The operator began instructing me on what to do, when a person drove up and told me he was a part-time paramedic. He explained what to do and helped the young man while we waited for the ambulance. I stayed around until the ambulance came, just in case I could be of help. The experience was terrifying. At one point the young man turned blue and stopped breathing. I thought he had died. But, I stayed, despite my discomfort. I didn't want this young man to be alone. I left only when I knew he had professional help to take over.

There are ways to help, even when we "don't feel skilled enough". Sometimes it is just being there that makes a difference. I don't want to live in a world where we are so self-absorbed or so afraid of other people that we forget our humanity. I am afraid we are fast approaching that reality.

Recently, my art has been focusing on nature and exploring its beauty and mystery. In my work with mythology, I wanted to avoid using figures to represent the different qualities of the Irish deities. I thought there was too much human-centrism in representing the spiritual energies of nature. When I completed Boann: Transformation of a Goddess I was surprised to find a figure appearing. Now I realize that there needs to be a balance. We need to see humanity integrated with nature, rather than superior to it. It seems we are at war with everything right now. War with other cultures...war with other humans...war with ourselves...war with nature...and on and on. It appears, in our pursuit of superiority of nature, we have become divided from ourselves. We are in desperate need of balance and compassion. I will continue to develop this idea through my art, with the hope that it can be a vehicle for transformation and healing.

But art is just one method to instill change, it needs to be extended in all aspects of our daily living. Everyone of us has the capacity to contribute to changing society. I hope that we can be more mindful of just how to live our lives in way that is positive, balanced and compassionate. Maybe we need to extend more gratitude for what we have, even when we may think we don't have very much at all. Maybe we need to have more compassion for ALL living things, for our neighbors, our friends, the strangers on the street, ourselves, and the plants and animals that share the same living space. They don't have to be big changes, sometimes the smallest acts can bring about the most profound results, but we need to be doing something and we need to start doing it now.



Helena said...

Things like this have been occurring for some time here and in other countries. Once, long ago, something similar happened to myself. Not one person stopped. My in- laws once saw a woman tossed from a moving car onto the side of the highway where she lay lifeless. After slowing down to watch, they continued on because they 'didnt want to be involved'.

We have no choice but to continue raising our own consciousness and hope that in the process it spreads to others as well. I'd like to send that man a get well note - do you think the newspare would forward it?

Antony Galbraith said...

I hope together we can wake people up...

Here is the address where cards and donations can be sent:

Angel A Torres Relief Fund
c/o Webster Bank
108 Farmington Ave
Hartford, CT 06105

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