Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting Involved

Image credit

Nick Russell Oniot, an 18-year-old architecture student from Adamson University, could have been alive today. 

Last October 14 about 11PM, two suspects tried to grab Oniot’s backpack. He tried in vain to fend them off. One of the suspects brutally murdered the victim, stabbing him 18 times. CCTV captured the entire crime. 

What happened next was equally tragic. 

Shiela, the sister of the victim, “lamented the final moments of Nick, slumped on the pavement in his bloodied uniform, as bystanders did not even bother to check him or call for help.” [1] 

It is sad not because nobody played the hero that fatal night. It was late at night and it appears no one else was around when the stabbing happened. It is sad because nobody played the role of the Good Samaritan while Nick pleaded for help when in fact there were already onlookers. 
Moments before that, the CCTV showed Nick fighting off his attackers who stabbed him. They only left Nick alone when a jeepney and a van passed by.  Nick tried to call the attention of the motorists to no avail. Several people who came out merely looked on until a motorcycle rider saw him and went to the barangay hall for help. Nick was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. [2]
A friend commented on Facebook, “We have become the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan.” 

The victim asking motorists for help. Screengrab of the CCTV footage. Image credit

We could only guess what went on the mind of the motorists and the bystanders when they saw the bloodied victim. Were they afraid that somebody was pretending to ask for help and it would turn out to be a robbery? Or did they assume that he was a casualty of the ongoing drug war? But he was wearing his school uniform and, in his pictures from his Facebook, he did not look like the stereotypical, emaciated drug addict at all. [3] Were they afraid that the suspects would turn against them if they helped? But they were already nowhere in sight. Were they thinking that his blood would soil the carpet of their cars? I believe the family would be more than happy to pay for the car detailing out of gratitude if ever. Were they thinking that they would be accused as the perpetrators if they brought him to the hospital? But I think it could be threshed out later on.

A bystander looking at the victim. Screengrab of the CCTV footage. Image credit 

So many questions which I fear might never be answered. Yet, one thing is sure, they did not get involved. The fact that no one bothered to help that 18-year-old victim while he was begging for help should really bother our collective conscience. 

I remember the story of a survey gatherer who knocked on the door of house. A man half-asleep and still in his pajamas grumpily opened the door. When asked if he agrees that ignorance and apathy were the problems of our society, he snorted, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Another friend commented on Facebook, “It’s not a culture of death. It was a culture of non-involvement.”

We are supposedly “the only Christian nation in Asia,” who claims to follow the One who taught the parable of the Good Samaritan. If we are really that detached as a society, then we don’t deserve to claim to be His followers. 
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 1:14-17, The Message version. Emphasis added)

Brothers and sisters, talking about our faith is cheap but living out our faith is precious.

[1] Erika Sauler  (20 October 2016), “Student stabbed 18 times, bleeds to death as robbers walk away,” Inquirer.Net, retrieved from

[2] Ibid, emphasis added.

[3] Not that I agree with alleged drug-dependents being killed in cold blood.