July 27, 2009
Joseph Pabon was arrested last week for the murder of Eridania Rodriguez the “cleaning lady” in Manhattan. She was 46 years old and the mother of two. Her body was found in an air conditioning duct. The police claims that it found DNA on the site of the crime that links Joseph Pabon to the victim. He was charged with second-degree murder and with “extreme indiference.”
I did not know that indiference, be it extreme, could be a crime. Although there are no statutory definition of “extreme indiference’ it has been used in court to prosecute criminals that have shown by their actions extreme contempt for human life such as in a hit and run situation.
Are we not all, to some degree, guilty of indifference to the plight and life-threatening conditions of others? How could we not be? The constant exposure through the media to dramatic situation around us and around the globe can make us less caring and discouraged and maybe even cynical. We can all suffer from compassion fatigue. The gradual lessening of compassion over time is a known phenomenon.
In ethics, doing the right thing often involves making a difference and not being indifferent.
How can we prevent indifference from happening?
1. We should be encouraged by the fact that there are millions of people who care and who make a difference in other people’s lives. We are not alone. There are more than a hundred thousands NGO’s and not for profit organizations in the United States that spend billions of dollars a year improving people lives.
2. We should not disregard that small (and not so small) steps or actions we can take individually to help others. You may only have one cup of water to give when there are millions around you that are thirsty. However that one cup is everything to the person that receives it.
3. We should accept that we have limited resources, both emotional and financial and not feel guilty when we face, as a global citizen what may seem insurmountable tasks and responsibilities.
As Elie Wiesel once said:
“For one who is indifferent, life itself is a prison. Any sense of community is external or, even worse, nonexistent. Thus, indifference means solitude. Those who are indifferent do not see others. They feel nothing for others and are unconcerned with what might happen to them. They are surrounded by a great emptiness. Filled by it, in fact. They are devoid of all hope as well as imagination. In other words, devoid of any future.”