By Robert Reich
It’s like watching a three-hundred-pound bully beat up a kid half his size, for no reason — bloodying the poor kid, pulverizing him. Yet you don’t dare try to stop the mayhem because the bully has a gun that he’ll use on you if you intervene.
You look for police, but there are none.
You round up your friends, who join you in shouting at the bully. But he pays no attention. They threaten that if he doesn’t stop they’ll no longer go bowling with him or invite him out for drinks. Their threats have no effect. The bully continues beating up the kid.
Your friends refuse to take further action. They don’t want to provoke his wrath. They’re as afraid of the bully’s gun as you are.
By now the kid is desperate. You give him some water. He pleads for a knife. You slip him some brass knuckles.
The kid puts up a good fight. You marvel at the kid’s courage and stamina in the face of such brutality. Maybe he can hold the bully off for a while, you think.
But the kid’s resistance infuriates the bully even further. The bully clobbers the kid with everything he has.
The barbarism is occurring in front of your eyes. It’s revolting to watch. Every moral fiber of your being shouts “do something!” Yet you’re paralyzed. It’s suicide if you intervene, but it’s moral suicide if you don’t.
You want to believe the kid can force the bully to retreat, but you know the kid doesn’t stand a chance.
You can no longer bear witness to this slaughter. You have to avert your eyes. Or you have to act. What do you do?