Last night, after Dancing with the Stars (which is a whole nother blog) I got sucked into and ABC "news" show called "What would you do".
The premise? The set up hidden cameras, and uncomfortable situations and tape people, being people.
The first one?
In a diner, in a small town near Colorado City, AZ. where Fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy, the crew hires an older male actor, and 3 women of varied ages to play his 3 'sister-wives' and a younger looking girl plays a 15 year old who has been chosen to be his next wife. The premise is the 15 year old is saying things like she's 'too young', doesn't want to be married, she needs time..etc. all to convey that she is in distress. The cameras watch what happens.
And what happens is sad. only 4 people tried to help, even when the girl was left alone for a time and an obvious opportunity to help was there. I'd like to think that in this situation I would offer my assistance to the young girl. Could I call someone, take her somewhere, if nothing else, call the police. Nobody was in danger, there were plenty of people around, but nobody cared. It made me sad, because it would be so easy to just ask the girl if she needed help.
The next situation though? Really made me think.
The next situation was in downtown Newark, outside a pub/bar/grill type of establishment. The actors? One portrayed a Latino man, and 3 were thugs beating him up. The makeup made him look like he had obvious damage to his face. And people would just walk by. Not offer help. Try really hard not to make eye contact. Talking on their cells. Clearly to them, this man was not important, and sadly, they tired to make him invisible. Worse? 4 apparently healthy young men came out of the pub, literally stood and watched for over a minute, and then walked away. Walked.
When confronted by the cameras?
Again. They just walked away. This time due to embarrassment by their lack of action. (According to the shrink that analyzed their body language) At least they had the good sense to be embarrassed.
What surprised me?
The people that did help.
One was a young man who came out of the pub after others went in to find help. He was big black man, strong and buff, yet he was one man. And he took on all 3 thugs on his own. Walked confidently towards them, managed to get between the man and his attackers. Really, took care of business. Then, one woman went after them. all 5'4" of her. One woman. alone.
Finally? A women literally got out of her car, away from her friends and safety and took them on. When the surrounded her...she kept after them.
Whoa. That is some woman.
This time? I didn't know if I would help. I would have been concerned for my own safety, and I thought..."Is this really a fair assessment for people" I get the point they were trying to make, that we have become a nation of people that only look out for #1, and we need to get back to the sense and feeling of community to truly be strong again. I get that.
The cameras don't know from Adam what the peoples lives are like that passed them and didn't step in. Yeah, they might be concerned for their own safety...because they have 3 children under the age of 5 that depend on them for food, shelter, nurturing, and if something happened those 3 children would be deprived of that. Or the man on the cell phone may have been on a life-saving phone call. Who's to say he wasn't a Doctor walking a nurse through a procedure that would save somebody's life? Probable? No. Possible? Yes.
My point is...that everybody has a story. And we shouldn't be judging people for what they do or do not do in a single, set-up situation because those hidden cameras don't know their story.
On the other hand...be concerned...notice what is going on around you...become part of your community.