You've probably seen a lot of press coverage over the past few days concerning the Connecticut man who was struck by an automobile and then lay paralyzed in the street while bystanders went on about their business and passing cars switched lanes to go around him without so much as slowing down.
Despite the outrage all of us seem to feel while sitting in our living rooms and watching the inaction of the people on the street, it's impossible to ignore the fact that there were a lot of people out there--people who weren't together, weren't conferring, were of various ages and presumably various other demographics...and they all behaved pretty much the same way. They are us. And I know the inclination is to immediately protest that WE would have done something. I feel the same way.
But do we honestly believe that those people who stood there on the street and did nothing wouldn't have said exactly the same thing if they'd seen that clip on their televisions instead of finding themselves in the middle of the action? I think the vast majority of them would have.
44 years ago, a woman named Catherine Genovese was murdered in Queens. "Kitty" Genovese became something of a poster child for what's wrong with our society today...err...I mean...what was wrong with our society 44 years ago...because 38 people watched her being attacked and ultimately killed. The attack reportedly went on for half an hour, but not only did no one intervene, no one called the police until it was over and she lay in the street, dead from 17 stab wounds.
The public, of course, was horrified.
And here we are, 44 years later, still shocked by the same kind of reaction.
Maybe it's time to stop shaking our heads in disgust and wondering what's wrong with other people and try to take an honest look at the roots of this kind of reaction BEFORE we find ourselves in circumstances in which we'll have to find out what we're really made of.