Thursday, April 10, 2014
Silence. Haven't we all experienced that? I don't mean the positive aspects of silence, when you're used to hearing too many sounds and your ears long for a little silence. I mean silence as in not speaking up. Be it that of a victim or of somebody who sees a victim. I have experienced many of these moments, some not that bad but some quite bad, when somebody hurt me, and nobody helped, not even myself. The others and I stood there watching, even though they pretended not to even see that something was going on, i.e. me getting hurt, and neither of us all did anything. A silly example would be when, once, as I was in the metro (underground railroad), sitting next to the window, with thus three people next to me and four more people sitting in the four-chairs-kind-of-metro-seats right next to that where I was sitting, when the man sitting in front of me slowly extended his legs around mine. I put my legs tight together so that he would not touch me that much, because I pretended to think that it was just a coincidence, an act with no intention. He then pressed his so that mine were pressed, both together, and with his. I was scared, I was only 16, but I told him to stop. He smiled and put his hand on my leg. As I looked around me for help, all 6 people, who had heard the scene, had turned their head the other way, in order not to cross my gaze. Then, I desperately looked at the window to see if I could soon get off the metro, and what a surprise, all 6 faces were watching me, through the reflection of my window into theirs... And they did nothing. Of course, nothing happened, I got off the metro, and all was fine. And of course, my example isn't of much importance, but what struck me, and still does, even after all these years, is the fact that 6 adults saw me getting hurt (mostly being scared) and not only did nothing, which in itself is an act, but watched, as a movie scene or something!
So I wonder how many people get hurt and people around them don't help them... If in my situation acting wouldn't have had any consequences for those who could have helped me, and still didn't, I can only expect people, whose acts could have negative consequences on their personal well-being, not to act. And we all know that that's just how it happens. How many times have we not seen somebody feel uneasy or desperate and not have done anything. And I'm obviously not talking about the miserable "Are you ok?" kind of sentence that seems to make us think that we "tried to help". No, that doesn't count, it is just self-reassurance that we really are good people who care about those around us. I'm talking about an active act. The word "active" might seem repetitive, but it isn't, because when you don't act to what you see but still see it and choose not to act, it IS an act, just a passive one. Don't get trapped into thinking that you're just being neutral, you are never neutral once you've CHOSEN not to act. I'm not sure whether what I'm saying is clear... I guess that, basically, what I'm saying is that, you might think that because you didn't make what I call an active act, you did not get yourself involved into a situation, and can thus freely say that you had nothing to do with it all, but that thought is wrong. Your non-act has consequences. YOU might not have caused it at first, but YOUR non-reaction to the situation let it end up the way it did, while if you had acted, the situation might have ended differently.
There are many such stories, the ones more painful than the others. But if we do a reality check, and are truly ready to "see" things the way they are, what we probably "see" is that someone close to us has a problem, or is in a bad situation, and that we can probably do something about it, even if it is just talk about it with them, confront them, or comfort them. And certainly not pointing our finger at them like they've made a huge unforgettable mistake that you never would have done, because then, the only thing you'll achieve is that you'll make that person you're supposed to help, blame and shame him/herself. Remember that caring deeply is not enough! Try and open up your eyes to the world, starting with those closely related to you, and then go further and further, even to the girl sitting next to you in the metro, whom your non-act probably won't harm, but just as well might. And your help could just turn this whole situation into one where she gets that she, too, wants to be like you, and step up for herself, and later, for others. That does seem quite nice now doesn't it? Everyone stepping up for one another?
I'll let you see the consequences that silence may have, in inviting you to watch Daleen Berry telling her own incredibly difficult story on TedTalk's channel:
Have a great day, keep your mind sharp, and help people around you, just like you'd like them to help you!