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Last month I had a rather extraordinary experience.
I witnessed something that has, regrettably, become a norm in our society.
If you’ve ever heard words the “Worldstar!” uttered behind in a shaky cell phone video, or if you’ve spent an afternoon scouring the deep depths of YouTube — you most likely know what I saw. Hell, if you checked your Facebook feed in this past week, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Last month I witnessed a good old classic “parking lot brawl”…
Not quite like this one, but something similar:
So how did it start?
Well, it was just a few days after Christmas. Somewhere in that strange time frame between Christmas Day and New Years — y’know, where you’re maybe thinking about being a better person, but at the same time 2017 hasn’t quite come around, so instead you’d rather just go shopping aannd bask in the self pity.
Well, we had finished shopping and I was just pulling the car around to pick up my girlfriend and her mother. Her mom had recently snapped up her ankle so I told her to just wait at the entrance and I’d come pick her up.
On my way over I saw something to my left that caught my attention.
A man, probably mid 40’s, appeared to be shoving and pushing a woman!
To be honest my first instinct was rather naive. I actually thought it two friends sort of joking around and “play fighting”. What can I say, I like to assume the best of people. I’m an optimist.
But as I’m driving past it dawns on me, “Oh shit! This is a real fight”. I also realized this it wasn’t a woman, but some dude with really shaggy hair and curvy figure.
It was at this very moment that I had to make a choice.
Would I simply drive by and let them sort it out? Would I stop, pull out my phone and film? or would take action…?
In 1964 a story broke out that shook many people and caused them to question their very own faith in humanity.
In the dark streets of Queens, Kitty Genovese was chased by her assailant. She was attacked three separate times, in a 30-minute window. When the dust settled, the most disturbing fact was revealed. During that grueling half hour window, 38 of the surrounding neighbors claimed to have witnessed the murder. However, not a single one did anything, let alone even call the police.
People who heard about this story harshly criticized the cold and heartless neighbors. Many even blaming urban life as the culprit. Stating that it’s causing people to be cold and dehumanizing.
Ultimately the reason for this shocking outcome does have a somewhat simple explanation. It largely has to do with something know as the Bystander Effect. A social psychology term that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The exact reason for his reaction has many different explanations: ambiguity, cohesiveness, and diffusion of responsibility.
It’s a difficult concept to understand, but if we are being honest, we’ve all had situations in which chose to simply watch, instead of intervening.
When I first heard this story, I was shocked and heart was broken by it. This woman’s life could have been saved multiple times, by dozens of individuals.
But it wasn’t…
All it would have taken was one person to break the chain of inaction.
But they didn’t.
Back to the brawl
just driving on by…
with this story playing in the back of my mind…
What do you think I did?
I took action!
Without even a moment of hesitation, I ripped the car around the corner. Threw it into park. Leaped out. Sprinted towards the two men. And split them up.
Looking back I don’t even recall what my plan of action was. I didn’t know which guy to push back or who even started the whole thing. I didn’t know if they would keep fighting or want to fight me instead.
I just did it.
I had never really done anything like that before, but in the heat of it all, that didn’t even cross my mind.
All I knew was this:
I didn’t want to become just another statistic. I didn’t want to be just another bystander.
I didn’t do it for me. I didn’t do it for glory. I didn’t do it for the fun story I could tell later.
I did it because it was the right thing to do.
And you know what happened?
Other people who were “standing by”, stepped in. They helped me break it up and kept the two men apart.
They knew what they were witnessesing was wrong, but they were looking to someone else to be a leader.
We make choices every day. Some good, some bad. Most of them insignificant.
But every once and a while, we get moments like this. Where in a split second we have to choose sides.
And sometimes, there are more people on the wrong side.
The question you need to ask yourself is this:
When the dust settles, will you feel good about your choice, or will you live with regret?
Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to always be leading. A leader is someone who makes the right choice despite the wrong actions of those around them.
We’re all in this together.
So choose wisely.
I think the lesson here has a lot to do with our emotional reactions when competing. Whether it’s the ref making a bad call, or your teammate making a mistake— we can choose whether or not our reaction is good or bad. Deep down we know that kicking and screaming is no way to get ourselves heard. It never accomplishes anything positive. The only this it does is create more negativity. Yet we still do it anyways. We see all of the fans, coaches and our teammates yelling at the ref so we feel like it’s okay for us to do the exact same thing. It’s at this moment we can actively choose to break the chain of action by choosing a positive action instead. Everyone else realizes that yelling at the ref really accomplishes nothing in the long run. And they will most likley regret it in a few minutes or after the game. We need to practice controlling our immediate reponses in the heat of the moment. If you have the clarity to no react, remind your teammates to show the same level of sympathy. Use your emoitons contructively and work together as a team.