An extract from a news report by Ben Nadarajan in the May 2, 2004 issue of The Straits Times:
"SHOPPERS AT A BUSY MALL in Bukit Batok Central fled in terror yesterday when a young man strode into a sports shop, whipped out a knife and stabbed a shop assistant repeatedly in the chest.
"While the shop's customers ran out, the attacker walked casually away. He paced outside the shop for a while, muttering angrily all the time, then went back into the shop. This time, he slashed the throat of the assistant, who by then was on his knees between stacks of shoe boxes.
"Three security guards and an off-duty Volunteer Special Constabulary officer, who heard the screams of shoppers, rushed to the scene. They pulled the metal shutters of the shop down to stop the suspect from fleeing. They asked the youth to drop the knife and subdued him until the police arrived.
"The tall and slim 18-year-old suspect did not struggle and was led off, hands cuffed behind his back, by Criminal Investigation Department officers. Mr Kelvin Yang, 17, was pronounced dead on the spot by paramedics."
"WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE if you were there?" an old friend K. posed this question to me last Friday over lunch.
Was really stumped for a while. Hedged, "Call the police."
"It'll be too late," she shook her head. "It's outrageous that the people around him did nothing to stop this horrible attack. I would definitely do something, such as throw something at the attacker or rouse other people to subdue him."
My immediate reaction was defensive, "But what if he turns around and attacks you?"
After the discussion, got quite busy with lots of other things. But the question returned from time to time over the past days to haunt me. "Whatever happened to my firm belief that to be good followers of Christ, we must be ready to stand up for justice, truth, love and freedom? Didn't Jesus say, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13)?
Watched The Passion again with a friend W. last night. This time, i was struck by different things, such as the connections between "Simon the Cyrene's no-compromise response to the soldiers' cruelty" and "Peter's denial of Jesus" and "Pilate's giving in to the demands of the mob".
Simon's determined stand against the evil soldiers (who were treating Jesus so cruelly) while helping Jesus carry the cross to Golgotha reminded me of recent killings in public places. Besides the young man who was killed in a Bukit Batok mall, another woman was also stabbed to death at work about a week ago. Her colleagues had watched in horror and done nothing.
i could imagine K. asking the same question and expressing her outrage again.
Yes, it could be dangerous to try to stand up against forces of evil, such as a man with a knife or in Simon's case, many soldiers with dangerous weapons. However, not to do anything seems to be tantamount to denying Jesus and washing our hands to claim non-involvement.
What would i have done if something like this happens in front of me? (Touchwood that it should!) Would i one day return to Jesus ashamed that i had turned the other way while evil prevailed before me?