I’ve been thinking for a while; for a long while…Why don’t we help people? Why do we think it’s okay not to help people? Think about it.
How many times have you walked down the street and seen a woman drop her purse or seen someone even fall over? And you just…walked on by. “It’s okay. They’ll sort it out themselves” but it’s NOT okay. I’m still kicking myself over an incident in London were I witnessed a woman drop her pram and a little force inside me attempted to move my body toward her and yet another force, a stronger force, kept me straight, kept me walking straight on by. I told myself that day that the next time I ever see anything like that I WILL go over, I WILL help, I WILL be different. But what is it that stops us?
Now as a Christian, I would love to delve deep into the realm of ‘The Golden Rule’ but how about for the sake of the diversity of humanity, I dive into another pool more relevant to all: Psychology, and man does Psychology have answers for us all.
March 27, 1964, Martin Gansberg wrote an article in the New York Times about the the murder of Kitty Genovese. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t but it never fails to horrify all.
To make a long story short, Catherine ‘Kitty’ Genovese was a young 28 year old woman in Queens who at about 3:20 A.M. noticed a man at the far end of the lot. The man caught up to her and grabbed her in front of a bookstore. She screamed. As she screamed, Martin Gansberg reports that a man in an apartment house called down “Let that girl alone!” But the man did nothing after. The killer came after Kitty again and stabbed her, she clearly screamed “I’m dying!” twice and no-one came to her aid. At 3:35 A.M. a city bus passed. Miss Genovese was crawling to an apartment house and the killer stabbed her a third time “fatally” is the word Mr Gansberg uses. At 3:50 A.M. the police recei
ved their first call from a neighbour. The caller, a 70 year old woman and one other female wee the only people who came forward. Over a 35 minute period of Miss Genovese screaming and dying. When these people were asked about what happened they gave responses like “I didn’t want my husband to get involved”, “I was tired…I went back to bed” .
Psychologists have been baffled for a long time about how it is that humans manage to do such terrible things. Maybe you’ve heard of Milgram (1963) where 40 male participants in America were deceived into thinking that they were performing an experiment on the effects of punishment on learning. They were to electrocute (not for real…not that they knew that) a person behind screen that they could not see but could hear (they could hear screaming) for the sake of psychology. None were forced to continue and yet 100% of the participants continued to administer electric shocks 300 volts and 60% continued up to 450 volts, enough to kill a man. They were sweating and panicking and yet with the simple prod of “Please continue” . (You can learn more about this study at http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html it gives a full detailed explanation with a video too)
I have one more story to tell on this topic. Maybe you thought these examples were extreme and unlikely. Perhaps they are. But here’s one closer to home. I have a friend, a close who told me a story that I’ll never forger.
It was some years ago so she was about 13 perhaps and it was nighttime. She and her sister were aware that a man across the street was in the habit of beating his wife. But on this particular night, they took the fight outside. He beat her in the street and she was screaming. My friend and her little sister witnessed this through their bedroom window. Some time past and an unknown neighbour called the police. The police came driving past and the man hid behind a bush. The police searched and searched and did not find him. My friend and her sister could see the man from their bedroom window. All they had to do was walk out of their house and point to the bush. But they did not and the police drove away. The man, to this day, still walks free and continues his abusive antics. I asked my friend, why didn’t you tell the police? She replied “My mum would have been upset that I wasn’t asleep” and “what if he got out of jail and came for me?” . I was appalled.
The truth is, ‘evil triumphs when good men do nothing’ is not just a passing saying, it’s very real and it’s very now. But let’s not think about evil right now, let’s just think about doing the right thing. You know what I’m going to do? I’m to make damn sure that every time someone needs help, I am that one who helps. I will not partake in the diffusion of responsibility, I will come forward and do my part as a human being on this Earth we share. Will you join me? You see if everyone was willing to die for everyone, no-one would die. If everyone helped everyone, I’m pretty sure we’d be seeing the Garden of Eden once again.
So if you’ve made it to the end of this rant, I want you to do something, not for me but for the world. I want you to be good, I want there to be light radiating out of you, I want you to be a Benevolent Being. Start small, do one good deed everyday but don’t proclaim it, don’t advertise it. Something small, something quick, something good.
Be a Benevolent Being, because who else is going to do it?
High Fives Forever; Eulalia Tan