Sending decent people into the world

As a mother I often wonder what it takes to create a decent human being.  What lessons should be taught by parents, and which can only be learned by experience.  There is no magical book for parents, and so often we just cross our fingers and keep moving forward.

I recently ran across a paper entitled “Collected documents on the Causes and Effects of the Bloody Island Massacre of 1850.”  Humboldt had many tragedies during the settlement period,  but we weren’t alone with our atrocities.

The Bloody Island Massacre was committed by a group of white men set on avenging the killing of two settlers in the Clear Lake area,  Andrew Kelsey and a man known as Stone.   Many believed that Natives killed Kelsey and Stone after suffering years of abuse in which hundreds of Natives died.   There were also stories of Kelsey and Stone taking the wives of their Native servants as concubines, and starving and beating their workers  with little or no provocation-the beatings often administered as entertainment for visitors.  These were cruel, horrible men but NO ONE STOPPED THEM.   Until the natives finally revolted, of course, and killed them.  Which instigated the Bloody Island Massacre and other murders of Natives.  Tragedy compounding tragedy though it didn’t have to be that way.

I would love to think that these tragedies are ancient history, but the recent gang rape of a fifteen year old girl in Richmond  shattered my blissful ignorance.  

  At least ten boys and young men participated in the attack, while at least twenty or more witnesses looked on.  And didn’t try to stop or report it.   The victim of this attack will suffer years of mental and emotional turmoil as she works to come to terms with what happened to her.  With the fact that NO ONE STOPPED HER ATTACKERS.   

Why did no one stop them?  Fear? Fascination?  I don’t know and that’s the scary part.  I just looked for an inspirational quote on responsibility and found many on personal responsibility, which is all well and good…


H. L. Hunt
Each is responsible for his own actions.


Submitted by Nisandeh Neta
Ultimately, whatever is in your reality is your responsibility.


Joan Didion
The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.


Josiah Gilbert Holland
Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power.


But is doesn’t tell me how to raise decent humans that assume a social responsibility to stop injustice and cruelty when they see it.  How to foster the courage to rise above a mob and DO SOMETHING, even when no one else will. 

This is the challenge I hope all parents face; wrestle with, strive to figure out.  There are no easy answers, but I’m going to try.  Cross my fingers, keep moving forward and try.

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4 Responses to Sending decent people into the world

  1. Kathy says:

    I have pondered this as well. I remember reading in a very old Psychology Today article that explored the fact that the more witnesses there are to an event, the less likely anyone will step forward. I made a note to myself: “Self, I said, at some point in the future you may see something and you may be in a crowd. You may look in the crowd for someone more qualified or bigger or even more ‘popular’ than you to step forward. Do not do this. STEP FORWARD AND LOOK FOR QUALIFICATIONS LATER.” end note to self.

    • lynette77 says:

      Nice note to self, and one we should all heed…. life can be scary and we all have the ability to make it better, or worse. Let’s try for better.

  2. AnjellaEl says:

    Brings to mind the famous quote: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Like Kathy, I have made a decision that bad things won’t happen in front of me. I speak up when someone is throwing pennies at the animals at the zoo, or jerking their dog by the neck with his leash, or abusing someone else in public. It’s scary, but it’s not right to just sit back and assume it’s someone else’s problem. It makes me sick that no one, not a single person stepped up to help that girl who so clearly needed help. Imagine if that was your child or even yourself…and no one helped. Makes me so sad….

    • lynette77 says:

      It is spooky how little people get involved and how vulnerable we all are because of it. I can only hope that others, hearing that Richmond story, have vowed not to ever be bystanders like those people were.

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