I think we understand a sin of commission: robbery and theft; willful destruction; rape and abuse; intentional injury and murder. While we might not necessarily understand the thought process that takes place with those acts, we can all agree that sins of commission are wrong. Sins of commission are intended to hurt, harm and damage physically. Sins of commission can have long-lasting effects emotionally and psychologically. Sins of commission are destructive to the human spirit, our core being.
I am, however, puzzled that we don’t take as much offense at sins of omission. Bystanders watch a person get beaten by a gang and no one comes to his aid. Someone steals a cellphone or iPod and it is seen by someone who does nothing to prevent it or report it. Like Sgt. Schultz on the old television show Hogan’s Heroes says, “I know nothing. I see nothing. I hear nothing.” These two examples pale in comparison to murder and rape, but aren’t they in the end, as destructive? Wasn’t it sins of omission that kept Hitler in power?
Where is our sense of duty as human beings to care for and about others? Where has that gone? Are we that busy with our lives that we stopped caring? Have we become that numb to each others' needs?
I think about two very dear, close friends that I’ve lost touch with. At some point, I moved away, got busy with my life and didn’t write a letter (the days when snail mail was the norm) or make a phone call to keep in touch. As a result, the friendship died a slow death. I’ve reached out to both, but they’ve also moved on and perhaps the friendship meant more to me than to them. I can live with that, but it hurts. Or perhaps, they’re just too busy. In any case, I take the blame because it was my act of omission that caused these friendships to die.
I think we need to look at what we don’t say and what we don’t do. Perhaps our inactions, our lack of support, our lack of words and our lack of help causes others, as well as ourselves, to suffer. Perhaps our acts of omission causes more harm than we think- not only to ourselves, but to others. Something to think about . . .
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