How many times have you said that to yourself?
“I wish I hadn’t said anything.”
The other night Ross was watching some teenage boys who kept looking around to see if anyone was watching.
You know the look people get on their face when they know they are doing something wrong and they don’t want anyone to see.
I watched for a few minutes too. They were doing their best to break a pipe on the side of a community building opposite from where we were staying.
Knowing the story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in 1961 in New York and not one person even rang the Police to get help, even though there were hundreds of people who heard her screams. And knowing the psychology breakthroughs that the investigation inspired which led to what is known as “The Bystander Effect”, where you are better off if you find yourself in trouble to only have one other person around. They will most likely help you, whereas if there a number of people around, they will most likely stand back, thinking that someone else will help (and of course, nobody does).
And knowing the story of Victor Frankl whose family and himself were captured and put into Nazi prison camps and his words “Evil prospers when good men stand by and say nothing”, of course I poked my head out of the van and asked them, “What are you doing?”
They ignored me.
I was about to get on a call so I couldn’t follow it up but Ross did. He walked over to them, asked them what they were doing and was threatened by the older one “What are you coming over here for and getting in my face, do you want a punch in the “bcfing” head?”
They argued for a while. The teenager told Ross “it was public property and therefore he could do anything he liked to it”. The teenager continued working on extracting the pipe. Ross threatened to call the Police at which stage they ran off.
Then the doubt set in. “I wished I hadn’t said anything. What if they come back and slash the tyres? What if they bring their big brothers back? What if…. What if …..?”
For the rest of the night, I was uneasy. I wished I hadn’t said anything. I wished I had handled it differently and yet on a deeper level I knew better than to see something and ignore it.
What would you have done?
The question for all of us is, “Do you do the right thing or do you stand by and do nothing and let evil prosper?”
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