"There's few experiences quite like watching Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie. I really, really mean that. It’s just amazingly bad on every level, and if you've never seen it, believe me when I say that it's thirty times worse than anything you could imagine."
They made a movie aimed at kids under twelve featuring characters so disturbing to look at that some children actually asked to leave the theater shortly after the film started. AND NOBODY TOLD THEM NOT TO.
They made a movie aimed at kids under twelve where the main character, a child himself, is repeatedly beaten by the villains and, at one point, left to die chained to a sewer pipe. AND NOBODY TOLD THEM NOT TO.
They made a movie aimed at kids under twelve where the heroes discover that the missing Garbage Pail Kids have held captive and then brutally murdered in the basement of the State Home for the Ugly. Oh, as a side note, also locked in cages in the basement; Santa Claus and Ghandi. This is the movie they marketed to kids under twelve. AND NOBODY TOLD THEM NOT TO.
In Christianese, a sin of omission is a “willful neglect or positive refusal to perform some good action that one’s conscience urges one to do.” What’s the difference between that and any other sin, you might ask? Well, we can look at it this way. When a person purposely does something evil, that’s known as a Transgression. But when a person could have done something good, and purposely didn’t, that’s an Omission. Following this reasoning, the Catechism states that "we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them…by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so.” That's a lot of technical talk for something that's pretty much common sense, isn’t it? If we see someone doing something wrong or harmful, we should at least point it out. And they should do the same for us.
But in today’s social climate, this is really one of the trickier parts of the concept of sins of omission. These days, any time you dare mention that someone might be doing something that might not be in their best interest, you’re immediately accused of “judging” or “condemning” that person. “You can’t judge me!” has become the ultimate shut up to us religious types.
It’s also a scam. It’s true, we have absolutely no authority to judge another person’s soul or condemn them to the Hell of eternal separation from God. But we have been commanded to watch out for one another, to teach each other, and to step in and say something when we have the chance to. Obviously, how we go about doing this may change from situation to situation, and we can’t force someone to listen when they don’t want too, but we are expected to make the effort.
So, the next time you see someone going down a self-destructive path, and wonder if you should say something, just remember Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie and think how much better the world could have been if someone had just stepped up and said, “Uh, look, maybe we should think about this just a little more before we do it.”
Why bother with the distinction between sins of omission and other types of sin when it's all bad? Well, because Jesus did in parables like Matthew 25. That's the one where He is asked, "When did we see you hungry and NOT feed you, or thirsty and NOT give you drink?" and Jesus answers with, "Whatever you DID NOT for one of the least brothers of mine, you DID NOT for me." Jesus throws in this “sins of omission” thing, and suddenly, there’s a lot more to being a good person than just following the rules. The checklist version of religion with all of the “thou shalt nots” goes right out the window. It's not enough to just make the occasional trip to confession and rattle off a few of the commandments we broke. It's not enough to whisper a few quick apologies to God for our slip-ups before drifting off to sleep. As difficult as those things can be, they turn out to be the easier part. Instead, we’re also expected to consider those things we should have done, but decided not to do. Great!