CORE ETHICS LESSON 4

The Gunshot
By Setanaoko

It may seem strange to read in the Jedi Compass read “Jedi put their lives above the lives of others”, after all it seemed like the Jedi in the fiction constantly put themselves in danger to save others.

 

 

In truth though, that’s not necessarily the case. They had training to deal with situations around them, in ways that others did not. Protecting yourself, is not a bad thing, and actually can be the difference between helping someone and completely losing the battle to help them.

 

The name of this lesson is “The ‘Gunshot’”. It’s a lesson that I started teaching people in the 2010 at FA after witnessing so many in the community rising up to join the Super Hero Network, which promoted Vigilantism. If you read the Jedi Compass, you will find the sentence “Jedi are not vigilantes” under “Defense”- this is one of the very contributions to the current document that is authentically my own. By and large, every other sentence was rewritten by someone else in the community. Which means that although I started “The Gunshot” lesson 3 years before the Jedi Compass was created- others whom had not ever been exposed to that lesson were forming their own opinions on whether or not Jedi should become martyrs.

 

Martyrdom, as a former Sith put it, is not at all as honorable as people seem to think it is. It is rare that someone’s “martyrdom” will make an impact on anyone. So what is “The Gunshot” lesson?

It starts with a scenario:

 

It’s dark outside, you hear arguing next door and after hearing what sounds like a gun shot, you see someone run away from the home, while the home falls silent. Do you go in to make sure everything is okay? You know the individual that ran out of the house is completely gone, you most likely will not see them come back. Do you dare walk into the home to ensure the safety of the others in there? Why or why not?

 

The first problem with this scenario is that you hear something that *SOUNDS* like a gunshot. You would be surprised how many people unaccustomed to hearing gun fire will mistake a car backfiring as a gunshot. The same is true of Fireworks.

 

That person running away from the home could be a victim, or an assailant, or simply trying to sneak out of the house. The truth is, you don’t know anything about the person that ran out. You can’t even be sure if you know who the person is- memory simply does not work the way we want it to. It’s imperfect. All you have are these facts:

 

  1. There was arguing so loud next door, you could hear it going on. Depending on where you live, it could have been indoors, or it could have been outside. If you live in a residential area, and you’re next door to someone- it’s likely they were outside (or at least at the door).
  2. It *sounded* like a gunshot.
  3. Someone ran away from the home next door.

     

You know nothing else about this particular scenario. Running over to the home to check things out would put you in danger- and that doesn’t bode well for you or the people inside the home. Here’s why:

 

  1. If you haven’t called the police first, and the assailant is in the home, you are now putting yourself in harm’s way and you cannot count on your neighbors to have called the police for you. This is a phenomenon sub-set of ”Diffusion of Responsibility” called “The Bystander Effect” and was first studied after the 1960s case of Kitty Genovese who was crying out for help during an on-going rape. She died from the encounter, because no one felt they had a responsibility to call the police about the incident. There are multiple reasons this could happen-

     

    a. They think someone else is calling.
    b. Maybe they think the gunshot wasn’t actually a gunshot.
    c. Even if it wasn’t a gunshot, it doesn’t mean something dangerous didn’t happen in the home next door- but people are less likely to call based on what they think is a verbal altercation.
    d. More prevalent amongst the Black Population, it may be a matter of trying to prevent a tragedy of the police abusing Escalation of Force tactics.

     

  2. If the police have been called, and you’re in the home but no one else is, you become an immediate suspect- and they won’t let up. That will tear at your emotions, cause you to lose the ability to help people in your sphere of influence because you are suspected for something you didn’t do even, if your name is eventually cleared. In the worst case scenario, because there is evidence now that you were in the home around the time of the incident- you could go to jail. And that won’t serve anyone. There was a case I went on as a Search and Rescue Member, where the brother was the primary witness to his sister’s abduction (it was the Holly Bobo case if you want to look it up). From 2011 to 2017, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continually turned their heads towards Holly’s brother, Clint. The community looked at her mother’s actions (such as a new haircut) as though it meant the mother wasn’t going through grief over her daughter having gone missing. In 2014, some of her remains had been found, and eventually led to a conviction in 2017. Unfortunately, the case as reopened because the key witness has decided he won’t testify again against the convicted individual. The point is, Clint lived in constant fear that he was going to prison for something he didn’t do. And it caused his life to basically come to a halt- furthermore he was constantly overwhelmed with grief because now he thought maybe he could have done something to protect her (even though what he saw wasn’t enough in his barely awaken state to understand what was going on).

     

  3. If you get seriously injured, that’s another ambulance that is needed. A little known fact, is that you need an ambulance for every individual casualty. So you’re taking away the ambulance from possibly saving another life because you were reckless enough to go into a home where you know nothing about the situation.

     

At the end of the day, you have to assess not only your capabilities, but also what you know and don’t know. Even as a formerly trained MP (Military Police), living with another trained MP, my husband and I won’t go into a home with so many unknown factors. And that’s even if we were able to carry what many call “Assault Rifles”. It is better to call the police and have them investigate, they’ll have more responding officers, with more updated training and possibly more information about the home than you have (especially if you moved in only a month or two ago).

 

Your role at that point, is to become a witness that can tell whatever you remember of the situation. You call, and then you start writing down every detail you recall- because memory gets worse as time goes on. That is the way that you can best help the people in the home next door in the event that something serious did occur. Even if the argument was simply a verbal altercation, a call to the police with a description of what happened helps build a case file. Yes, we’ve heard stories of how police departments have ignored the signs- but later down the road a good Attorney won’t ignore the evidence.

 

Diffusion of Responsibility is not in the Jedi’s playbook. But you have to be smart about how you address matters, there are lines that when crossed become harassment. And harassment is another form of recklessness, which we Jedi are called to overcome.

 

Assignment: Yeah, I wrote a lot, but it doesn’t get you out of an assignment! 😃 Think of a time when you put yourself in some kind of danger (be it socially, physically, or even emotionally) to help another person. Really think on the matter and ask yourself “Could I have done something less dangerous to resolve the problem?”. In the comments below, tell us what you discovered during your contemplation. You don’t need to talk about the situation itself, but rather tell us if you discovered there were other options and why it is important that you know there were other options now. Or if there were no other options, why is it important that you know there was no other option to the situation you were in?  Your answer should be a minimum of 250 words.

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