We think that crimes (like the one that involved Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed multiple times while neighbors witnessed the event) are isolated incidents. In the case of murder, non-intervention is incomprehensible. Unfortunately apathy and non-action in the face of wrongdoing is an everyday occurrence.
When someone is in trouble, how many times do we bury our heads in the sand and proclaim – “not my problem, I can’t help you?” We then become collaborators in another person’s nightmare, onlookers with a marked fascination in their issues (but with no desire to help resolve them). Individuals turn a blind eye to the aggressive, the atrocious, and those things that are just plain wrong – situations they wouldn’t dare tolerate for themselves simply so they won’t have to get involved.
As long as it doesn’t impact them personally, they pretend not to see. What’s more disturbing is that they minimize the danger and the impact for you. They may discuss your misfortune with other people, but in the final analysis they decide it’s simply more convenient to keep their mouths shut.
To the extent this occurs we destroy community. We then evolve into self-serving, self-seeking cellophane wrapped units who are only looking out for ourselves. This treatment leads to the feeling that we’re alone in the world, and ultimately disconnected form the larger human family. When we ignore our fellow human’s pleas for help (silent or audible) we tacitly condone cruelty, ignorance, and abuse. Some even support the abuser because they’re afraid.
Below are some guidelines to provide support for those in need:
- Lend a helping hand. Instead of commiserating in another’s bad break, try brainstorming solutions for how you can help (or get others involved).
- Don’t act like you don’t see it; call it for what it is, and let the perpetrator know your feelings on the subject.
- Notify the proper authorities. Sometimes outside agencies are the appropriate outlet for problem resolution.
- Let the victim know you’re on their side, rather than simply asking how they’re going to fix the issue.