A few people noticed that a mugging was about to happen. There was no doubt. It was unmistakable: an act of violence was about to unfold right in front of their eyes, and it was going to be gruesome.
Something had to be done. Those who saw events begin to unfold could not imagine not doing what they could to prevent it. So they let out a shout of warning.
The moment they began to cry out, however, a circle of people formed around both victim and perpetrator. The circle was composed of big, respectable, decent folks. Their backs were turned towards those crying out.
Oh good. The right people were on the scene! Surely they saw what was going to happen. Surely they'd intervene.
And yet... they did nothing.
So the outsiders, really alarmed now, raised their voices. They were pointed, they were specific, they were passionate, they were eloquent to the point of heart-breaking. It was a life or death situation; this was not the moment for collegial tea and crumpets on the deck. But there was enough time, if someone did something in response to all their shouts and cries.
But how was that possible? The folks who were sounding the alarm were right there, and they were plenty loud. Yet these good, decent folks just stood there. But this one... did he actually have his hands over his eyes so as to "not see" the people waving their arms? And that one... were those his fingers, stuck in his ears so as to "not hear" the cries of warning?
Others formed in the crowd as well, onlookers...
Then, suddenly and inevitably, it happened. It was every bit as brutal and shocking as the outer circle had warned. Worse. Still, they gasped. They gaped. How could this have happened?
And then, at long last, the inner circle finally turned around and faced outward.
As the bodies were being carted off.
They made hushing, calming gestures with their hands. "Now, now," tutted a central figure:
"No doubt what happened was regrettable. It's a sad day, and a sad, sad thing that happened. We are all deeply grieved. All of us love peace. We all detest violence. We cherish exactly what you cherish. We are with you. We are you.
"Perhaps something good may even come of this!
"Now, back to your homes and churches with you, go on, that's a good lot.
"We may even write a book about this. If one of us does write a book, we'll be sure to let you know. And if we don't tell you, you don't need to know."And to the slack-jawed amazement of those who had cried alarm and had been ignored, to their ears came the sound of...
Applause, and shouts of praise for the inner circle of silent spectators. Praise for their sagacity, their "nuance," their "judiciousness," their "carefulness," their "graciousness" (towards the muggers), their "thoughtfulness," their "helpfulness"; the hours they'd put into such careful and intelligent watching and spectating, and then for so articulately commenting... after the mugging.
And so, in the end...
...nothing changed for the better.