Originally posted by Juicy Burger on September 17, 2022 21:58
- What do you think should have governed Cash’s actions? What obligations does a person who witnesses another wrong have? Are there different rules depending on the nature of the “wrong”?
- Can you identify what “rules”—legal or otherwise—ought to govern the decision to act or merely to witness. Do we have an obligation to act—sometimes, rarely, occasionally, always? Explain.
- Choose at least 2 of the readings listed above (all are uploaded to Google classroom and attached to the post), read them and integrate what you learn from them into your response. Be certain to cite the authors or titles as you reference them so we all recognize the references.
Cash needed to truly understand the consequence and direct impact Jeremy had human life. In my viewpoint, I think it is easy for people living in the future to criticize the past. While, I absolutely think that what Cash did was above any evil, there is a need to dissect the psychological reasons behind what he did.
First, I think that humans like to ignore things that don't affect them. Cash says "I do not know starving children in Panama" and I think this reveals a huge disconnect between society and Cash. This disconnect can ultimately break the human qualities that make us care about others.
Second, I think it is easy to do nothing. If we aren't forced to do something to survive, it's easiest to do nothing. Cash expends little energy and avoids creating turmoil by not turning his friend in. The article from WBUR talks about the bystander effect and I think this is really important to understand humans today. Harris describes it as "when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation.” Although, Cash had no other bystander and knew that what Strohmeyer did was wrong, I think a version of the bystander effect still exists. This version does not justify inaction because others can solve it or we can document it, rather I believe it simply means people have a natural tendency to do nothing.
Legally, Cash did nothing wrong, and I believe that unfortunately, he deserved to go free. However, since these laws have changed there is also a new legal obligation to do something. When we look at an ethical framework, we should be preventing injustice as often as we can. But given humans don't want to expend a large cost as the article from Rand and Yoeli point out, I think there should be an obligation to help people if you don't risk your life in any grave way. I think enacting rules that force people to sacrifice themselves for others is unfair and is a bit too controlling. I also agree with another sentiment from Rand and Yoeli which is that good actions compound over time. So yes, some times disaster strikes and we will see a hero figure appear but I also believe little good action compounded over time can help humanity avert dozens of future crises.
Ultimately, even though Cash's actions are beyond okay, I think modern psychology and analysis can help us understand his outlook as well as past atrocities. Additionally, I'll add that Cash, if had viewed the situation from another perspective, would have likely agreed with popular sentiment. But I think the further he choose to defend himself, the more he became engrained within a defensive and hostile state.
I loved your statements about how humans love to ignore things that don't affect them and how easy it is to do nothing. It is easy to become disconnected from the outside world as you can allow yourself to sympathize with people but it is much harder to actually force yourself to act. The bystander effect is very interesting and I would also like to further understand the psychology behind his actions. And yes, while what Cash did was very much legal at the time, him walking away almost makes him seem comparable to an accomplice in the murder. He very much deserved the backlash he received from society, but I just wish he got a bit of a bigger punishment than just some insults.