Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Disgusted and Depressed
There have been times in my life when I have been overwhelmed with my own insignificance. I have neither the wealth nor the wisdom to make a real mark on the world, so I try to take as many tiny steps as I can to leave this earth a bit better than I found it. I donate money as I am able, I get involved in charitable causes and I comfort myself by thinking that these things may not matter on a global level, but just might make a big difference to just one individual.

Yesterday I read a story that has left me shocked, disgusted and depressed. It has me questioning things that I accepted as true, and looking at our society through a new set of eyes.

In a housing project in West Palm Beach, Florida – in the shadow of the mansions of some of the richest people on earth – is a poor housing project. In that housing project, a mother and her 12 year old son were held hostage by a gang of teens and adolescents. For three hours the son was beaten and the mother was repeatedly raped and sodomized.
After three hours, their assailants reunited mother and son. At gun-point the mother was forced to perform fellatio on her son. The two were then doused with household cleansers, burning the boy’s eyes.

Their screams for help were not answered.

After the attacks, when word got out, the reaction from many of the neighbors was ambivalence. Many of them had been raped themselves, and this crime was just another day in the projects.

I read the story and felt physically sick. I read the story and felt the same sort of shock and horror as I felt when I watched the towers fall on 9-11.

I don’t understand how this type of thing can happen in a civilized society. I don’t know what kind of environment children can be raised in that would lead them to behave in this horrific and brutal manner. I don’t know what kind of poverty and despair can lead to this form of ambivalence. I don’t understand how today in America, a stones throw from the Palm Beach mansions, a housing project (the words neighborhood or community certainly don’t fit) can exist in which this type of horror is the norm. The only conclusion that I can reach is that we don’t live in a civilized society. The assailants in this case aren’t the only villains. We who turn a blind eye to the poverty and despair that can foster this type of behavior are all guilty.

We as Americans talk about bringing peace and democracy to the world. Our troops are fighting for democracy in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Our celebrities remind us to speak out against the horrific brutality in places like Darfur and Rwanda. We need to do something to stop the horror in Darfur and Rwanda and numerous other places, but we need to open our eyes to what is happening here.

This mother and son came to America from Haiti looking for a better life. I don’t think they found it.

We talk about stopping illegal immigration, but what do we do to assimilate the legal immigrants? This country has a long history of opening our doors to immigrants and offering a chance as “the good life”. When did we close the door? When did we stop caring?

This country was founded on the rights individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but people living below the poverty level are denied all of these. Where are the jobs, the social service, the education system that gives families like this one a chance? Where is the public outrage that should be directed towards the horrific living conditions of many of our citizens and immigrants?

Have we become a society so obsessed with money and with capitalism, that we have allowed the chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots” to swallow the less fortunate amongst us?

I am disgusted and depressed. I don’t know how to process this story. I don’t think that there is any amount of money that can right what has been wronged here. I don’t know how this boy can be given his life back or how his mother can live in hope.

I am disgusted and depressed.


Blogger Whitt said...

Hi from "woohag" on Crochetville. I linked to your blog from there. Thank you for commenting on my Intro post! I am really writing to say that I just read your 7/11 entry and I too am disgusted and feel very similar to how you do here. I read your post in horror and cannot imagine anything like that happening in a "civilized" society. Anyway, just wanted to say Hello and let you know that I understand your thoughts.

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