My husband and I watched ABC Television's Primetime: What Would You Do http://abcnews.go.com/whatwouldyoudo show this week. I must say what I saw disturbed me. It stirred emotions and feelings that I didn't know I held so close or so dear.
The show had a few different "scenarios" that showed individuals involved in activities that were either dangerous, cruel, or in need of rescue. The question posed was "what would you do" and either get involved or not. Either out of moral conviction or a desire to help out, would people step up to the plate and get in the middle of something that did not directly impact them?
The first case study involved College Age Fraternity Members hazing "pledges." There was "alcohol" along with name calling and general hazing happening on a public square in a small town. A group of boys were shown first and then a group of girls. The hazing with the boys was more dangerous looking, strapping someone to a pool with little clothes and pouring vodka (water) down their throats.
Most people walked by, took pictures or gawked at this "tradition," but a few got involved. Those that did started calling 911. They released the boy from the pole. They got into the faces of the older boys and said this was torture and was wrong.
The girls in the hazing "incident" were much meaner. They called the girls names, they wrote profanity on their clothes and, while there was alcohol involved, the attacks were much more personal and provocative.
Cameras were flying out of purses, people gave ideas for names to call the girls, one teenager even participated in the hazing at the "girls" suggestions. Men and young boys gawked and watched in utter amusement. My husband thought it was like watching mud wrestling and most of the men thought it was funny.
We were appalled at how few got involved; How few women got angry. I almost cried when a father step up and stopped the hazing. He was stern and forceful with a big heart to stop it all. I might have applauded him, too!!
The "WWYD" incident that really got me was the "Aiding the Fallen" scenario in which a wealthy attractive young women who is nicely dressed suddenly collapsed in the middle of a sidewalk in suburban NJ. Within 3 or 4 seconds, people are attending to her, calling for help, and talking calmly to her. She falls and people come to her aid. They are compassionate, touching her hair, reassuring her help is on the way. They are quick to react; Helpful; Concerned.
This was not the case in "Aiding the Fallen Part Two" where the person in need of help is a homeless looking man holding a beer can. When he collapsed, the minutes ticked away with no one coming to his rescue, no one seeing if they could help. It was like he was a trash bag on the sidewalk and they walked around to get to their next thing.
My heart was breaking. I held back tears thinking of how heartless and judgemental our society has become. Where is compassion? Where is empathy? That man is a Child of God no matter the condition of his clothing, his home life or his social economic status. He is a person.
The only person who really came to his rescue was a women much in need of help herself. She is scruffy looking with a can and without a cell phone. She asks each passerby to help her help him. She is a real "Good Samaritan." She gets in close to the man and gives him a name as he is unresponsive. She talks calmly and soothing to him. She offers him hope. She had little to give herself, but she gave all she had.
How many times have I read the Good Samaritan story in the Bible or in a child's story book and thought that wouldn't happen today. It wouldn't be the last person on the road that would stop. We live in America. No one would walk right by a needy person and not offer help. I'm wrong. We do. I'm sure I have. What has become of us?
My husband and I talked about what makes a person stop and what makes a person go on like it's someone else' job. For me it's a sense of justice; of right and wrong. I can't stand to see someone being treated unfairly. Does that mean I get involved in every social cause or champion every downtrodden person? No, I can't. However, if I can do something, I will.
I remember when I was a teenager, my parents and I were at an ice cream store on a summer night. A bar/restaurant was a few doors down. I watched an obviously drunk man get into a car. I started to freak out wanting my dad to go stop the man. He could kill people. We called the police with a description of the car, the driver and direction the man was traveling. We followed him at a safe distance until help arrived.
Why? Because I knew I couldn't sleep if we didn't get him stopped. Is this a learned skill, a heart tug or God's urging? I think it's a little of each. It is the Holy Spirit leading us to act with compassion, empathy, and faith that doing something will result in a much better outcome than doing nothing.
How I pray that in my daily life I'm modeling this Good Samaritan attitude to my children. In the little and the big, I hope I'm showing them that they can make a difference. It is our job to help our fellow man. God does call us to love the unlovable, to serve the downtrodden, and the widow. We can do that by opening our homes, our wallets, and our hearts to those we see every day and to those half way around the world.
God give me the wisdom, the ability and the desire to be your hands and feet today and everyday. Don't let me be a passerby. I want to be one of those who steps up and does something. Let it be so!