Maybe E was looking back to see if her daughters were following, and then inadvertently witnessed the destructive divine power. Being punished for simply witnessing.
The tendency to limit others witnessing one’s actions indeed seems to be more of concern than justifying those same actions to said others. As you can imagine, it’s not a very encouraging course of action, and it strengthens my belief that bearing witness is one of the most powerful moral things one can do.
On a personal level, avoiding public shame and the fear of separation from the group has been engrained into us since the very beginning of humankind. The basic need to be accepted by others, purely for survival. Being cast out literally meant being left alone to die, and it is thought that this biological trigger is still present today.
We walk in society staying inside our own cocoon, hoping that we don’t get singled out for whatever reason, and we interfere in nothing out of fear of reprisal, to the extent that we avert our eyes to even deny a moment the right to be witnessed. And for the transgressor, being witnessed upon and called out – or not – has now become the yardstick.
Everything screams “dastardly” and “cowardly”, and we’re equally dismissive of both sides: the people who try to act without witnesses vs. the people who try not to bear witness. But I suspect things aren’t that simple. Maybe it’s about the way you choose to live, not about the results you wish to achieve.
The absolute pacifist, considering it unethical to use violence to help an innocent person who is being attacked and may be killed. Yet at the same time, human beings have been fighting each other since prehistoric times… an uncomfortable moral position. The debate of a Just War is an extraordinarily hard one… we must keep talking.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies Homo Sapiens as “LC – Least Concern” for extinction, only rivalled in their scale of world domination by ants.