Someone Whom You Don’t Know

by Larry Hehn on February 15, 2013

box with buttonI live within walking distance of a major highway. Sometimes when there’s been a crash, I can see a helicopter hovering over that section of the road.

Earlier this week, the helicopter was hovering. And the first thought through my head was, “I hope it isn’t anyone I know.”

I quickly gave my head a shake.

As if it would be alright if it was someone I didn’t know?

How sick is that?

But that happens all the time. Doesn’t it?

*****

In an old Twilight Zone episode called Button, Button, Arthur and Norma Lewis are poor and in desperate need of cash. A strange box arrives at their door, along with a note. The note says a Mr. Steward will soon be paying them a visit. Later, Mr. Steward shows up with a key to the box.

He explains that if they press the button on the box, two things will happen: they will be given $200,000, and “someone whom you don’t know” will die.

They agonize for days about whether or not to press the button.

Finally, Norma gives in and decides to press it.

Mr. Steward shows up the next day with a briefcase containing $200,000. He informs them that the button on the box will be “reprogrammed” and given to someone else under the same terms and conditions.

“I can assure you,” he concludes, “it will be offered to someone whom you don’t know.”

*****

When it’s “someone whom you don’t know”, it’s easier – as this Phil Collins song suggests – to “switch it off or look away”.

Long Long Way To Go*

While I sit here trying to think of things to say
Someone lies bleeding in a field somewhere
So it would seem we’ve still got a long long way to go
I’ve seen all I wanna see today

While I sit here trying to move you any way I can
Someone’s son lies dead in a gutter somewhere
And it would seem that we’ve got a long long way to go
But I can’t take it anymore

Turn it off if you want to
Switch it off it will go away
Turn it off if you want to
Switch it off or look away

While I sit and we talk and talk and we talk some more
Someone’s loved one’s heart stops beating in a street somewhere
So it would seem we’ve still got a long long way to go, I know
I’ve heard all I wanna hear today

Turn it off if you want to (turn it off if you want to)
Switch it off it will go away (switch it off it will go away)
Turn it off if you want to (turn it off if you want to)
Switch it off or look away (switch it off or look away)

Switch it off

Turn it off

*****

It’s interesting how our concern level changes when the affected person switches from “someone whom you don’t know” to someone we do know. Especially ourselves.

Isn’t it?

*****

What if it was someone you did know?

* Special thanks to katdish for introducing me to these lyrics almost two years ago, right after the tsunami in Japan.

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