The Kindness of Strangers

Many people tend to follow the assumption that people will come to their aid in the event they are involved in a violent confrontation.

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist here, I will grant that there are good people out there, great people even. There are many people who would never even think of hurting you. But most of them would not make a single move toward helping you either. This does not mean they are bad people, only common people.

In 1995 Deletha Word side-swiped the car of Martell Welch. He gave chase, caught and beat her on a bridge in Detroit. He tore her clothes off and beat her for about ten minutes. Although there were many witnesses on the bridge, no one helped her.

They just watched.

She was 4’11, he was 6’4. He also had a group of friends with him, and some witnesses claimed that this was part of why they did not move to stop him. Other factors come in to play as well, but my point here is that people will not always help.

Unless someone else makes the first move to help.

In the case of Deletha Word, some of the witnesses said that if someone had made a move to help they would have backed them up. But no one made that first move.

Facts are terrible little things sometimes. Most people will not ever hurt you. Some people will help you. The larger the group witnessing another person in trouble, the less likely they are to help. This is referred to in Social Psychology s The Bystander Effect

We do have something in our favor. While there was a time when the sight of nearly any traumatic event would be enough to elicit a freeze response in any of us, many people would be hard pressed to find an event that they have not seen before on the internet. This is a desensitization effect. This can prevent some of the freeze response, maybe. And we do also have people who train in high stress and adrenal stress situations, this helps as well. And perhaps there are some people left who appreciate human life and value others even if they do not know them or share a religion or race or political doctrine with them. These people will step up if they are present when you find yourself in need of help.

But counting on them to be there? Nah. That is a fool’s bet.

Hope for the best, sure! But plan and be prepared to take what comes all alone, because that is probably how things will happen.

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