Here's a wrenching story from China, where a 43-year-old woman was found dead in an elevator
The lift in residential building in Xian had been turned off by two maintenance workers on 30 January. The woman's body was found a month later.
The piece noted the lowly status of single women in modern China and noted speculation over possible mental illness in the woman. Here's the close of the BBC piece-
"How could her family have allowed her to go missing for a month? What about her social community, what were they doing?" said one user.
Others criticised the media, asking how the issue was relevant.
Said one outraged commenter: "This has nothing to do with the fact that the deceased was mentally ill! Would a sane person have been able to survive a month in a lift?"
Another pointed out: "This incident's happened, then you bring up this woman's mental history. God, aren't the mentally ill people too?"
That's an interesting way to close it, with a prayer of sorts. The person might be using "God" as a all-purpose expletive, but it could also be a plea reminiscent of any number of psalms.
A quick psalm-surf yielded Psalm 10, which starts "Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" No one bothered to look for the woman, no one was close enough to note her absence and to check on her. Throw in the fact that it took a month for the maintenance folks to notice and you have a classic case of someone falling through the cracks in a fallen world.
I was talking about the Golden Rule the other day here, mentioning the Good Samaritan in passing. Those two Jews on the road's failures to stop were sins of omission, but they bordered on sins of commission since they had a lifeless body in front of them that they should have checked on. This Chinese case has a truckload of sins of omission less egregious than in the parable since the woman's absence wasn't laying there in plain sight.
Collective guilt is easier to brush off; someone should have done something, but since "someone" is "no one in particular", no one did something. It would have taken some sort of proactive caring to make a difference. Someone in particular needs to be the someone that checked on her.
Churches often have a church elder/deacon in charge of checking in on a regular basis with a list of folks from the church. That can seem a bit formulaic but it would have had to have been weekly to have made a dent; if they checked once a month and she went AWOL right after the last check-in, she'd still have been dehydrated to death if she was in there more than a week or so.
Thus, unless we want said deacon to do things weekly and are willing to be called weekly, someone other than said deacon will need to be the check-on person. One person suggested a check-in ap that would trigger a response if the person hasn't logged in in a day or two, but that presumes they have a smart-phone in the first place and are willing to be part of it.
The final line of the BBC piece might be morphed into "God, aren't my neighbors people, too?"
Who should you and I be playing that check-on person role for? We're God's hands and feet, and if those stay put, it takes a miracle for those fall-through-the cracks tragedies to be averted,