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If You’re Drowning Do I Have To Help?

· Thoughts

On the weekend a friend sent me an article about 5 Florida teens that watched and taunted a drowning man. They recorded his drowning on their phones and later posted them to Facebook. Seems in Florida, as in most states, there is no law compelling a person to assist someone in trouble. The rules in Canada aren’t very clear either.

I got over feeling nauseous from the story, which truthfully took a couple of hours. And no, I didn’t watch the video or it would have taken more than a couple of hours to bounce back. But once my shock subsided, the questions started coming up and sadly absolutely no answers, which is really unusual for me. Here are some of my questions… maybe you have some solutions and can help me out.

Why do we need rules that compel people to help others in need? Is it really something that should be required by law?

Do we live in a world where we really only have to watch out for ourselves or for our family or friends, and if anyone else needs help, well, it’s not our problem?

We are worried about terrorism, but should we also be worried about our own lack of concern for the lives of others?

When did human life or human tragedy become a joke?

What does it take for a teenager to laugh and not care about a drowning man? What are their family-lives like? Did they play video games? Eat red food colouring? Get dropped on their head when they were babies?

Would this have still happened if there were no cell phones to record it, or social media to share it? Are we so accustomed to observing from a distance, being so connected but so detached, that we are losing empathy? Where is that leading society?

How would this story have been different had the teenagers been white? Would it have been considered a race issue? If they were white teenagers, would the discussion of the morality of their behavior and the shortcoming of the laws be overlooked completely to make a racial point? If the youth were black then why wouldn’t there be a discussion of race on race abuse? How do we decide what part of the story is worth focusing on?

What should the repercussions be? Apologize to the family of the drowned man? If they had no remorse then would that make it better or worse? Jail time? Would they just come out worse when they were released?

I find that this is a bit of a rabbit hole. When I think of one question another 5 pop up, and I spiral in a different direction. There are so many layers to incidents like this and how much thought do we actually afford these situations? Do we just read the article, say “that’s awful” then carry on without further consideration? If we do that are we as at fault as those teenagers? At what point do we start asking the tough questions and then have conversations about them with the intention of figuring out solutions?

I am open to having conversation about this. Hit me up if you have any insight you want to share or even more questions that have come up for you.

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