August 28, 2009
The Dunbar Village Case: Who Is My Neighbor?
--Dunbar Village, West Palm Beach, Florida
"Who is my neighbor?"
Thousands of years ago, the question was asked. It is still asked today. When Jesus was presented with this question, He answered it by telling a story which came to be known as the "Parable of the Good Samaritan."
In 2009, the question may be answered in the true story of Dunbar Village.
If you are unfamiliar with the case, I offer a short summary of what happened in Dunbar Village, a public housing development in West Palm Beach, Florida, in June of 2007.
A mother, alone at home with her twelve year old son, was the victim of a home invasion. Several male teens invaded her home, gang raped her, and forced her to commit a sexual act on her young son. Wearing hoods, the alleged rapists used weapons to control the woman and her son. The assault continued for hours. Household cleaning solutions were poured into the twelve year old's eyes.
According the msnbc.com, the alleged intruders left the home after stealing cash, a cell phone, and other valuables. Under cover of night, the woman, a Haitian immigrant, and her son walked a mile to the hospital because they did not have a phone to call for help.
The case is coming to trial this month. DNA evidence has linked the accused to the crime scene. You can follow excellent, on-site coverage of the trial at whataboutourdaughters.com .
So, who is my neighbor?
I really wouldn't expect a civilian to rush into that apartment with guns blazing. But how about a call to the police? How about a knock on the wall? How many screams can one listen to before becoming so inwardly disturbed that action is necessary, and inevitable?
On June 18, 2007, the victims had no neighbors. The pain and humiliation involved in having to walk a mile to the hospital after surviving this type of assault is really unimaginable to me. Can you imagine it? Could anyone have been a neighbor to this woman and her son? Was everyone in the environment so disrupted and demoralized that action seems useless, pointless? Where does this level of indifference come from? What happens when such indifference is sustained over time and across location?
No answers here; just questions. Who is my neighbor? To whom am I a neighbor?