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"Oh, was that you screaming?"

"Sure I heard screams," the neighbor said.
"In fact, they were so loud, I had to turn up the volume of my television set."
The screams came from the apartment next door,
where vicious robbers had poured lighter fluid over their bound victim and set him afire.
Unusual? Not in our sick, self-seeking age.


PERHAPS even more shocking than the viciousness of our growing crime is the unbelievable apathy, toward it.


It Could Have Been in Your City

Police records abound with cases of whole crowds of people watching the most brutal acts with seeming indifference. In New York, a nude, ravished girl fled screaming from her attacker to the threshold of a Bronx office building. Some 40 onlookers failed to help her. Policeman Norman Brown said, in Bronx Criminal Court, "Forty people, could have helped that girl yesterday, but none of the jerks helped her."

The girl, working as a telephone receptionist, had been beaten, threatened with a razor, and raped. Finally breaking free from her assailant, she fled down a stairway from her second story desk, screaming, "Help me! Help me! He raped me, he raped me!" About 20 persons were attracted by her cries. She fell down the last several steps to the first-floor landing. The crowd grew to 40 persons. The girl, sobbing and screaming, was left lying on the floor, dad only in a jacket, as the crowd quietly looked. Not one person moved to help the girl. Policemen, arriving later, had to shove some of the crowd aside to reach the stricken girl.

In Philadelphia, a crowd of shoppers stood watching as a 62-year-old woman grappled with a purse snatcher. The woman, Edith E. Lambert, is partially crippled. She was waiting for a bus when she discovered a man attempting to steal her wallet from her purse. She grabbed the wallet, and punched the man in the face. He tried to board a bus to escape, but she grabbed his coattails and hung on, screaming, "Don't let him on the bus — don't move the bus! Don't let him get away!"

Police said the woman bravely hung on until an officer arrived. Several bystanders offered encouragement. One man said, "Go ahead, lady, give it to him!"

But none offered to help.

Mrs. Lambert said she regretted not having used her cane on the man.

In San Diego, California, two policemen were injured in an automobile accident near a drive-in restaurant. Customers jeered derisively as carhops rushed to their aid. "Let them die — who cares?" commented one onlooker. Unbelievably, one spectator looted a carhop's pocket of coins while she was helping one of the accident victims.


"Go Ahead and Jump!"

Richard Roland Reinemann, 19 years of age, was having a life-and-death struggle — with himself. He was pacing back and forth on a narrow ledge atop the 11-story DeWitt Clinton Hotel in Albany, New York, obviously intent on suicide. A crowd gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol across the street, and soon police and firemen rushed to the scene. Spotlights were turned on the youth, and radio and television stations carried reports of the boy atop the building threatening to leap to his death. The reports swelled the crowds as many rushed to see. "Chicken!" screamed someone — "Go ahead and jump !" Richard paced back and forth along the ledge. "I hope he jumps on this side," a well-dressed onlooker remarked, "We couldn't see him if he jumped over there."

Some of Richard's relatives were rushing to the scene.

A man in the crowd was heard to say, "That kid isn't faking. I'll bet 10 bucks he jumps." Someone took the bet.

By the time the boy's frightened relatives arrived, the crowd numbered about 3,000 persons. "I can't wait around all night, I just missed my favorite television show," said one woman. When the distraught youth was finally pulled to safety, the crowd broke up, and began drifting away. The betting man cursed, and said, "He cost me 10 bucks!"

"These people wanted him to jump — they really wanted to see him die," said a fireman, shaking his head in disbelief.

And then there was that "Palm Sunday" in Los Angeles. At about 11:00 a.m., "Christians" were going to and from services, in seasonal observance, presumably, of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, who gave the example of the "Good Samaritan."

A newspaper photographer noticed traffic swinging wide to avoid an automobile which had crashed into a light standard. As the photographer neared, he saw a man lying in full view of the passing motorists, obviously unconscious and injured. The photographer radioed for help over equipment carried in his automobile, and, satisfied he could offer no other immediate assistance, quickly photographed the unbelievable spectacle for the record. The picture he took shows the injured man lying beside his car, and the traffic continuing on. Another motorist finally stopped — to light flares — and then continued.

When police investigated, they found the horn had been blowing incessantly from the moment of impact, finally stopping only when the battery went dead. A resident of the area said she had seen the crash, and that another man had fled the scene, dazed and bleeding. She hadn't bothered to notify anyone.


Canada no Exception

In Montreal, Canada, a 23-year-old waitress, Patricia Cunningham, had been beaten, choked, stabbed and slashed by vicious assailants in what was described by police as one of the most brutal attacks recalled by the department.

The victim, bleeding from at least 75 razor slashes, crawled barely conscious down the hallway of her apartment after the brutal attack by three men. She tapped weakly on a door for help, and had the door slammed in her face.

Police said a neighbor, answering the feeble knock, was shocked by the sight, and slammed the door — then called the owner of the apartment building.

He in turn called police. The victim required six hours of surgery to help her survive.


A Case in Australia

In Australia, a man was held down in a city street by 15 teenagers, kicked, punched, spat upon, robbed of $70.00, and left unconscious. "Kill him! Kill him!" screamed the girl friends of the gang, who were watching.

The man's piteous screams were heard by crowds leaving a nearby cinema. Some looked the other way. Others watched, briefly.

But no one offered to help.

So the victim, reviving, went to the Darlinghurst police station to report the incident. "Sorry, it's not in our district," he was told. "You should have gone to central." So he called a cab to take him to a hospital for treatment. Remarkably, en route to the hospital, he recognized part of the gang which attacked him. He asked the cabbie to call his base on the taxi's radio, and notify police. He was refused. The cab driver said, "Not on your life, mate, it didn't happen in my cab."

The man, Rocco Di Zio, an Italian, and managing editor of an Italian language newspaper, said, "It seems that in Sydney you could be bashed, robbed, and even dying, and nobody would care."

These are only a few of the recent sickening episodes, revealing a shameful criminal attitude of inhumanity — of callous stupidity and non-involvement in the face of the most piteous human needs.

Why? What's behind the "I'll get mine — I'm concerned about me" attitude so plentifully evidenced today?

Was it always like this? To be sure, there have been sufficient histories of man's inhumanity to fellowman catalogued down through the centuries — from ancient Egypt to present-day America — to recognize that such incredible self-seeking is not limited to any one nation, or any one race. It is a human sickness.

The causes are fairly simple to understand, once we are willing to face squarely the influences shaping our attitudes — determining our conduct.


The Sickness of Affluence

There are two human extremes which can produce a don't-care kind of noninvolvement in the suffering of others. One is a common disaster, a plight striking whole societies simultaneously. Starving peoples in India, Africa, Central or South America are clear evidence to support this obvious conclusion.

When masses of humans share the same inhuman suffering — rarely does one see self-sacrifice, humanitarian instincts, or man helping fellowman. Perhaps the most extreme cases came out of prisons, concentration camps and death factories during World War II. Not all prisoners lost their humanity, to be sure — but many did. When sheer personal survival is at stake, afflicted humans have little time or energy for concern over the sufferings of another, caught up in a common disaster.

Documented cases of the most bestial kind of mistreatment, even among fellow prisoners, are a matter of record. History points to the most grisly and sickening extremes of such inhumane desperation — even to the point of cannibalism, and that on occasion among friends, or even family. Conversely, that same common disaster can bring forth the most outstanding cases of personal sacrifice and heroism on record — such as one human gladly laying down his life to spare another — though these are once-in-a-while occasions, and not the average behavior.

Common disaster is one extreme human condition which can produce a determined kind of personal behavior which ignores the suffering of fellowman.

Another is the exact opposite of poverty or disaster. It's the extreme of too much.

The disease of affluence — the fat, overfed, flatulent, opulent, self-satisfied, comfortably entertained, spoiled, glossy and pampered people of plenty — this sickness, too, can result in the most nauseating kinds of inhumanity.

We, in the Western, English- speaking nations of the good earth are seeing the symptoms of a dread disease all around us. The disease has dozens of symptoms — all of which inspire feverish attempts at removal of the symptoms, therefore attempting to treat the effect of the basic disease, rather than root out the cause.

The disease is simply too much. Too much of everything — too much leisure, entertainment; too much material wealth and too much envy, greed and hatred spawned because of it.