I don’t like bandwagons. You will rarely see me jump on one. Latching onto someone’s 15 minutes of fame, especially when that person is a criminal, is a cheap way of getting attention. I try not to get attention that way. However, there is something going viral right now that is bothering me so much that I really felt the need to say something.
A horrible crime happened at a prestigious school and everyone is talking about it. A good looking, privileged, white young man was the criminal here. He is getting a lot of press.
The Judge in this case is getting a lot of attention too. He doesn’t want to punish this young man too harshly. He doesn’t want to destroy the life of a good looking, white, privileged young man. In a sick way it almost makes sense. There are so few privileged people in this world, it would be a shame to destroy one.
There is a problem here.
The problem is not Brock Turner. The problem is not Judge Aaron Persky. The problem is us.
We are simply fascinated by evil.
We spend so much time focusing on the evil in this world that we are blinded to the heroes. Think for a moment. If I asked you to list a truly evil person, you probably could do it in a heartbeat. If I asked you to name the most evil person from World War Two, you would probably say “Hitler” or “Mussolini”. Do you know who Nicholas Winton is? You may know who Saddam Hussein is, but do you know the name of a single firefighter who ran into the Twin Towers on 9/11? Unless you have a personal connection, I doubt it.
We spend so much time looking at the evil doers, glorifying them, that we totally forget about the heroes. What’s worse is that our children are watching.
There is a very good chance that your children now know the name Brock Turner. They may even know what he did. There is a much smaller chance that they know the names Carl Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson. These are far more important names.
These young men are also white. They are also good looking. I’m guessing, because they are going to a prestigious school overseas, that they are also privileged. The only real difference between these two and the criminal in this case is the choices made.
Carl Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson chose to get off their bikes when something didn’t look right. They chose to ask questions. They chose to run toward the criminal and hold him down instead of running away to avoid involvement. They chose to cry over a naked woman behind a dumpster. They did not chose to rape her. They did not chose to judge her.
If we show our children these heroes, and glorify men and woman who make the right choices and sacrifice their comfort for others, we will point our children in a direction that we want them to go. If we and our children focus on the real life heroes and the choices they are making, I am sure that we will see a rise in the number of heroes in this country.
You become what you focus on, so I would ask you to please focus on these two heroes today. Maybe you just post a picture on your facebook or twitter with simply their names, Carl Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson. Maybe you go deeper and have a discussion with your family about these two young men and their choices, with minimum mention of the name of the criminal.
Maybe you step out even further, and become a hero yourself.