Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Calling for Help
"Responsibility's like a string we can only see the middle of. Both ends are out of sight.." -William McFee
It was March 13, 1964 on a New York street when Kitty Genovese was slowly and brutally stabbed to death. There were by police accounts at least a dozen people in the neighborhood that heard her screams. Over the course of a 90-minute period, her attacker was frightened away at one point, only to return and finally kill her.
Yet not once during that period did any neighbor assist her, or even telephone the police. Later reports from witnesses indicated they thought it was merely a lovers' quarrel. In many respects the responsibility we have for ourselves and for the needs of others can fall short. In this case, Kitty perished and we provide excuses for doing nothing.
Does this story illustrate that we should take the law into our own hands?
No, but what the story does illustrate is that we as individuals need to do "something" when we see, hear or witness a wrong being done. The problem is that too many of us are wrapped up in our smartphone ear plugs, watching the latest video of a cat doing something silly.
In the above incident, it prompted two psychologists, Darly and Latane, to study the conditions under which people may or may not offer assistance to others in an emergency. They staged an experiment around a woman in distress. They found that 70 percent of the people who were alone at the time called out or went to help the woman after they believed she had fallen and was hurt. Interestingly though, when there were other people in the room only 40 percent offered help.
When others are around, apparently it is not my problem.
Too many times we fail to take responsibility for what is happening around us. And I do not mean to say that we have to solve all of the ills that exist in every corner of the world. But we should be responsible humans, watching out for each other and not just ourselves. Life is not a series of personal song playlists and funny cat videos.
Life is an interaction of humans, taking care of each other. We are responsible for our own actions of course, but we are also responsible people. That means all of us have a responsibility to serve, protect and nurture those around us.
But why you might ask?
Only because it might be you calling for help one day.
Stay inspired my friends.