Friday, July 25, 2008

Moral Dilemma – Help!

You are out walking your dog and you hear the neighbors having an all out brawl.

“XXXXX, why the F---- did you have to come in here?” He booms.

I cannot understand the response, but can hear the yelling. And then their 5 year old lets out a piercing scream and just keeps screaming as the parents are screaming around him.

What do you do?

How about if this isn’t the first time? Several years ago, when the 5 year old was still in a high chair, I was out walking (understand, I am not spying or eaves dropping. Our house is set back and in order to get from my house to the road, I have to walk down my driveway which runs directly beside their house) when I heard the screaming and then the heart breaking sound of their son screaming. This time it was worse because I started to hear things slamming into the wall. I couldn’t stop myself. I went right over to their house. Their front door was open. I called their names and walked in to take their son out. Drips of blood was on the staircase. It was then that I thought – whoa, I have crossed the line. I could be putting myself in danger. The husband was obviously embarrassed but started to explain what he thought was the “reason” for his behavior. I simply said that whatever was between them was between them, but their son did not have to see and hear it. I actually was so brazen to go up, unstrap their son from his booster seat. My hands were shaking. “I’m going to take him outside.” The wife followed me out and the angry husband ended up driving away.

My husband thought I was insane when I told him what I had done. I tried to tell him, he would have done something himself. There is no way he could have heard the boy’s screams and ignored them.

The hard part is that as neighbors, we are obviously privy to more information. I have seen this father with his son. His son is his life. He is attentive and caring. He spends every free moment with his son. The mother, although very nice, I think has a drinking problem. I think that is why we have never really hit it off. We’ve had tea a few times, but other times when they have had us over, I have seen her slur her words. I have watched the awkwardness with her son; the overly loving, praising mom that comes with the a few extra drinks.

What we each do in our own home is our business, but not when it concerns a child. How do I explain to these people the damage that they are doing to their son, even though they never strike him? How do I look them in the eye after I have this conversation?

Last night, I’ll tell you that I did not burst in. I just started walking my dog very loudly; praising him for listening and loudly encouraging him toward the house. I hoped that if I could hear them, they could hear me. Of course my goal is not to get them to be quieter and truthfully, I don’t expect that they will never fight, we all fight; but, I want them to wake up and realize that they are behaving this way in front of a very small child who will bear the scars from this night forever. I came home sick to my stomach wondering if I should call the police. What would I do if something horrible happened and I knew in advance?

I’m thinking today, I will go over to talk to her but I just don’t know what to say.

I welcome any suggestions.

Ironically, on one of my other blogs, , I was discussing saints vs. sinners and that not all choices are black and white. While I put the entry together, I came by the following quote which can certainly be applied to this situation. Here he is talking globally, but the same applies locally. “I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.” Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize Speech

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