Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Elie Wiesel, Seinfeld and the Guilty Bystander

Update on indifference:

Hartford, Connecticut is one of the latest examples of the kind of horror indifference can insipidly impose revealing how important it is that we must be aware of how apathy and unbiased impartial unconcern is a necessary component for evil to thrive.

When Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer watched a carjacking in the final episode of Seinfeld, they're arrested under a new "Good Samaritan Law" for not helping. Charged with "criminal indifference" they hire attorney Jackie Chiles, a Johnnie Cochran impersonator, who defends them by challenging the concept of the "innocent bystander".

"You know what these four people were? They were innocent bystanders. Now, you just think about that term. Innocent. Bystanders. Because that’s exactly what they were. We know they were bystanders, nobody’s disputing that. So how can a bystander be guilty? No such thing. Have you ever heard of a guilty bystander? No, because you cannot be a bystander and be guilty. Bystanders are by definition, innocent. That is the nature of bystanding. But no, they want to change nature here. They want to create a whole new animal - the guilty bystander. Don’t you let them do it. Only you can stop them."
Seinfeld's last episode addressed what truly makes evil possible, indifference to the suffering of others, and that this is indeed very much a part of our society,
"You don't have to help anybody. That's what this country is all about." - Jackie unfortunately
Unfortunately, this episode felt forced. Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine, although petty, annoying, and self-centered to the extreme, would not universally fall in line just too egregiously mock a victim of a carjacking without one of them, at least, questioning what they were doing. Their contemptible behavior manifested itself from the natural flow of the characters and the everyday situations they found themselves; normally resulting from thoughtlessness in pursuit of their primary interest and occurred as secondary.

Along the same line, although in a much more serious context, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel addresses "criminal indifference",
"The end of evil and the notion of redemption begins when indifference ends."
Wiesel then goes on to say,
"It’s possible to live with death. All one has to do is turn one’s back on the living. It’s possible to be dead before one dies. It’s so simple. Just don’t care. Don’t listen to the cries of the hungry mother who can’t feed her children. Don’t listen to anyone who needs a presence. Don’t listen. Don’t care. Than you die while you are still alive."

Elie Wiesel and Seinfeld, uncommonly associated for the most part, illustrate that indifference or the cowardly apathetic response to human suffering is not only criminal in certain situations, but is an essential ingredient for evil to exist.

Indifference does not bother to distinguish or discern between right and wrong because it doesn't care, yet indifference is a necessary evil to a degree. If we allowed ourselves to feel as strongly as we should about all the suffering that goes on in the world, overwhelmed, we would cease to function. However, it is inexcusable when injustice occurs right in front of our eyes begging a response and we choose to turn away disregarding the victim's humanity. This is the epitome of cowardice.
"Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own."

-Elie Weisel


Anonymous,  09:05  

I didn't like the last episode from Seinfeld either. When I watch it now that last episode takes away from what happening from previous episodes.

I don't know why but it kind of ruined it for me.

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