At approximately 3:20 on the morning of March 13, 1964, 28-year-old (Kitty) Genovese was returning to her home in a nice middle-class area of Queens, NY. She parked her car in a nearby parking lot, turned-off the lights and started the walk to her second floor apartment some 35 yards away.
She got as far as a streetlight when a man grabbed her. She screamed. Lights went on in the 10-floor apartment building nearby. She yelled, “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me!” Windows opened in the apartment building and a man’s voice shouted, “Let that girl alone.” The attacker looked up, shrugged and walked-off down the street.
Genovese struggled to get to her feet. Lights went back off in the apartments. The attacker came back and stabbed her again. She again cried out, “I’m dying! I’m dying!” And again the lights came on and windows opened in many of the nearby apartments. The assailant again left and got into his car and drove away. Genovese staggered to her feet as a city bus drove by. It was now 3:35 a.m. The attacker returned once again. He found her in a doorway at the foot of the stairs and he stabbed her a third time — this time with a fatal consequence. It was 3:50 when the police received the first call. They responded quickly and within two minutes were at the scene. Ms. Genovese was already dead. ” [THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 27, 1964, p. 38.]
Kitty Genovese was a name that would become symbolic in the public mind for a dark side of the national character. It would stand for Americans who were too indifferent or too frightened or too alienated or too self-absorbed to “get involved’’ in helping a fellow human being in dire trouble. Detectives investigating the murder discovered that no fewer than 38 of her neighbors had witnessed at least one of her killer’s three attacks but had neither come to her aid nor called the police. The one call made to the police came after Genovese was already dead.
Some of you no doubt have heard this story. That incident may be the defining moment of urban apathy in the latter half of the twentieth century. When it happened, many thought the incident shocking, bizarre – but not typical of the way people respond. The question was asked, “What was wrong with those people, anyway?”
Sadly, things like this continue to happen daily in the world we live in. The question is as believers “what are we doing about it?” It’s one thing to know what is good, but another thing to do what is good. The Bible says in James 4:17 “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin.”
The story of Kitty Genovese is the 1st century equivalent of the story of the Good Samaritan. We are surrounded daily by people who are hurting. Their situation may not be as extreme as the Kitty Genovese case, but they are still in need. Therefore, we all have an opportunity to “do” good daily.
The purpose of Christianity is not just to go to an entertaining church service to feel a rush of good emotions, but rather to do what God has called us to do in our communities. We are saved to “do” the “good” things that Jesus has called us to do!
This Sunday at South Side we will take a look at the Parable of The Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37, and learn how we can do good to those in need around us! We invite you to come worship with us at 10 a.m. and to visit us on the web at: www.southsidewch.com.
South Side Church of Christ