My thoughts have been troubled of late. The past week I have been haunted by something I heard from my friend Vicky.
It was Tuesday, and I was driving us both to Rock Choir. I asked casually after a mutual friend of ours, not quite expecting to hear that she was in a terrible state because her brother-in-law had been killed last month. According to Vicky, his son had been involved in a fight outside his house; the brother-in-law had gone out to try to stop it and had become involved in what the police called 'an altercation'. It all ended when one of the men involved got into his 4wd and 'ran' the brother-in-law over, reversing back over him again for good measure. The scene was witnessed by the whole street, including his wife and son. The culprit has been arrested of course, but the worst part of it is: the son has been charged with ABH.
This story struck a nerve - not only because of the tragic nature of the events and the seeming pointlessness of the man's death - but because it touched a theme that keeps cropping up in my life lately. We all know that we should intervene if someone is being beaten or picked on, we all know we should stick up for ourselves, our property and our family, we all know we should help someone in distress. But how many of us dare do it?
I know I don't - I didn't stand up to ASBO Ange (see previous post) because I thought I would get clobbered by her; I didn't comment when I saw a woman beating her toddler, because I had my own child with me, I was scared and thought that the woman would only take it out on her kid later. I'm a wimp, and I am ashamed of it. But I'm not alone: a friend of mine who is a nurse, says she has to think carefully before helping someone on the street. She passed by a man having a heart attack the other day and didn't go to help - partly because someone was already calling an ambulance, but also because she knew she could be sued if her resuscitation techniques did not work. It's just not right .
There was a time when 'have-a-go' heroes were celebrated, promoted and applauded in films or stories and highlighted in the media. Now I feel it's gone too far the other way. How many times do we hear or read of people standing up to muggers, burglars, gangs, bullies and getting injured, killed or arrested for their troubles? And how many times do we hear of the stories of those who succeed and the baddie getting their come-uppance?
It's giving us all the wrong message for if none of us dare to do what is right, then what does that mean for society?