22 Seconds of Paralysis… and Depravity

The story of mankind was told in 22 seconds in a New York subway these past few days.

It took 22 seconds for mankind to unravel the worst of its fallen nature.  It was 22 seconds of anger… 22 seconds of fear… 22 seconds of ignorance… 22 seconds of self promotion… and ultimately 22 seconds of paralysis and human depravity.

Following a verbal altercation, a young man pushed a thin, much older man off the subway platform and onto the tracks as a train was approaching.  It took 22 seconds from the shove until the train struck the victim to his death.  What happened in those 22 seconds stands as a testimony for all of us about who we are as humans, and how deep our moral inability and corruption affects us.

Eyewitness accounts, video evidence and a variety of news articles paint a shocking picture.

The train was quickly approaching.

The short, thin victim had gotten up and was desperately attempting to climb back up on the platform, but he could not… perhaps due to injury, desperation or physical weakness.

The multitude of bystanders were just… standing by… gripped by fear, suspense, maybe ignorance… but ultimately paralysis.

The freelance photographer from the New York Post quickly grabbed his camera, and as the train was approaching he started shooting photos of the scene.

He later gave the pictures to the NY Post who published a shot of the death scene.  He excused himself saying that he was trying to distract the train with the camera flash.

As for the perpetrator… “he never once offered any aid as the train approached the station. In fact, [he] watched the train hit the victim. And according to witnesses, he then calmly put his coat back on, picked up his cup of coffee and left the station, seemingly indifferent to the welfare or fate of the victim,” reports NBC news in an article.  The murderous spirit of Cain is alive and well today, as this man shows no remorse for the result of his actions.  He was careful to not forget his coffee while his victim was pinned between the train and the platform.

Could there be a worse example of human depravity in a civilized modern society?  22 seconds went by and no one attempted to help pull up this man…  a simple reach by two people would have lifted this 140 (or so) pound man back to safety in a matter of a few seconds.  Not even an attempt…  The photographer was more concerned with recording the action knowing there will be monetary gain down the line instead of helping his fellow-man… the ultimate act of selfishness.

Given what the Bible teaches, we understand why this is.  Man’s inability to do good, and the evil in his heart are echoed by God lamenting over His fallen creation in Genesis 6:5 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Despite this great evil that paralyzes even our so-called good intentions, the cross of Jesus has a place for all of us who chose to believe in Him for salvation from our depraved state.  My prayer is that the perpetrator and the bystanders will find Jesus, and forgiveness at the foot of His cross…

9 comments on “22 Seconds of Paralysis… and Depravity

  1. It is significant to notice that from the parties present there, from the conductor to the bystanders and even to the one who pushed the victim into the tracks, none may have wanted the helpless victim to die. Most of these people were possibly overwhelmed by good thoughts of hope and good intentions to help the victim. These great intentions however never came to fruition.

    Well intended words and thoughts without action are not enough. The “do nothing” alternative may turn deadly. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

    • You are absolutely on target with your observation. People knew what the right thing to do was and NONE of them did it. Could it have been dangerous to help the man? Maybe… But before the train pulled into the station, it could have taken two men 5 seconds to pull this little guy up. No one did it even though they knew what the right thing to do was.

  2. I did not read much about this, but …. the entire incident lasted about 22 seconds… most ( knowing NY) did not even pay attention from the beginning
    You had to decide fast how safe it would be to try to get in front of a crazy person , that may( or may not) do the same thing to you … in a situation like that I believe you deck the crazy guy first and than you offer help to the person in need or work in tandem with few other people ..-. but you have only maybe 10 seconds to decide what to do… lets not forget that in a totally different setting ( 9-11) some of the same people reacted in a totally different way….

    The NY Post dude is a scumbag …. and the criminal…just a criminal that needs to be put away

    • Gabi, you bring up some valid points about decision-making under pressure. Lets not forget that the train was not in the station when the guy was pushed. The poor man was trying to climb out… and no one gave him a hand…

      See, the article is not as much about judging the actions or inactions of any particular person as much as it is about who we are as humans at our core.

      Those 22 seconds spoke volumes about humanity.

      Someone mentioned to me today that we just witnessed behavior that you would normally see on the nature channel. African herd animals just mind their own business when one of them is caught by a lion… He may have been right.

  3. You could be right… i do not know the details … but 22 second that probably for most were maybe 10 -15 seconds ….not much time to process a bunch of information before you make a decision .. specially in a jungle like NY where your main focus is not to be killed by who knows what ( cars, guns, criminals etc.)
    And again… we are talking about NY….. Most in that town believe in Darwin … the survival of the fittest … so they acted according to their set of beliefs .
    No surprise there

  4. I think that sad occasions like this one give us all an opportunity to think about what we would do and get a ‘fire drill’ idea in our head of what we could possibly do. Not knowing what to do does contribute to the paralysis. As an operations manager for several years, we had many drills with plans in place for all kinds of things, so one year when a gas main erupted in our mall and I was the one in charge for that night, I had fear, but I knew exactly what to do, and I knew that about 50 people’s lives were dependent on me getting them out of the store safely, without a stampede. So I did everything in the systematic way I was taught and we all made it out safely.

    In another incident I was at our downtown store when 9/11 happened and we got a credible bomb threat, the caller thinking we were the Sears Tower. Let me tell you, if I wasn’t ready to die, I probably would have walked right out, like some employees did, as all of Chicago was being evacuated, but our CEO would not close our store down till we were the only business left open at the end of the day- but I stayed and again I did my job (can you imagine we, the management team had to split up to search for a bomb and be on the lookout for possible terrorists???)

    Had I not had training I would have not had a clue how to manage through either of these situations, and Gabi makes a very valid point that by the time people realized what was going on they only really had far fewer seconds to act. There certainly was no hero present at this incident and unfortunately a poor man lost his life.

    • Psychologists talk about this “bystander syndrome” where the herd mentality takes over in critical situations when people are not trained. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this issue because I’m an anesthesiologist… in my line of work sometimes seconds can make a great difference… action or inaction can spell life or death…

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