what do you do when you see a situation going on in front of you that you know is wrong? how do you react? do you turn away? do you try not to get involved? or do you stare?
or do you start to look away while still thinking to yourself…what should i do?
a thousand scenarios come to your mind of what could happen to you if you step in…but there are also a thousand possibilities of what could happen after you leave the scene.
the past couple of weeks, i’ve been hearing more and more of these situations. here are some that have found a place for pondering and reflection in my mind:
* one of the professors who i work with shared with me a story from her recent travel overseas. she was walking along the street in Lithuania, minding her own business, when she saw a young girl probably in her mid-teens in not-so-good shape, begging for money. she then saw her being brought into an alley and being pushed between a couple of larger men. this professor being the activist warrior that she is, followed the girl into the alley, and acted like an innocent tourist. she had her camera on hand, got closer to the girl (who she said smelled like drugs, sex, alcohol – the whole deal), and asked someone to see if she could take a picture with her…cause that’s what tourists do, right? just like a tourist. well, for this professor, she mostly wanted to get a picture of this girl and the situation, because in her mind, this very well may have been a missing child’s case, or who knows. strategic, huh? that was her method of breaking it up, hopefully relieving some tension in that situation, and snapping photos of a particularly harmful situation. unfortunately, pics of the others didn’t come out as clear, cause her stealthy hands were covering the lenses. these pics will then be forwarded to proper local organizations that deals with these matters. would you intervene like that?
* in one of my classes, one of the brothers was talking about a situation when he didn’t know what to do – he’s an ex-army guy, pretty big, and as he was leaving the store, he saw this man beating his son pretty bad…like, very bad. brother didn’t know how to react because hey, let parents discipline their children the way they want, right? or, no? if you see something like that, how do you react? he said the man was bigger than him too, so he was obviously a little bit more intimidated. / one of the suggestions in our class was, to divert the individual’s attention, like, potentially ask the person for the time – anything to get that person out of the daze of beating his child. another case where you are sitting in a restaurant and at the other table, there is a ruckus of a mother yelling at her child for spilling a drink. do you just listen to the noise going on at the booth right next to you? or do you ask if everything is ok?
do you keep minding your own business?
* how about in new york city? when you see a mother yelling at her child reallllll bad, cussing up a storm and starting to hit her kid on the subway? do you step in?
we may have learned/are currently learning about these issues in our classes…we read books, we have discussions…but what happens to our reactions in real life? are we so bold then? or do these first-hand experiences provide us with a different perspective?