Friday, February 1, 2008

Take Action

I was reading the news on my way into Boston this morning when I happened to read this story. The part that struck me was that a passenger was able to take the wheel over from the bus driver after the bus driver was impaired with some certain illness. According to a witness, a sharp turn had to be made, and the witness was unsure of how the passenger was able to make the turn. Not too many people will take action when they see a dangerous situation in front of them. This passenger did take action and now we have a happy end to this story.

This news article reminds me of what happens when people don't take action: The Kitty Genovese case. For those who aren't familiar with the story because it happened before they were born or didn't study it in college (thank you Psychology Degree), Kittty Genovese was murdered in Queens, NY, on March 13, 1964. After she was attacked she screamed out loud to try and scare off the attacker. Lights went on and windows opened from nearby apartments. One person even yelled at the attacker to "Let that girl alone!" This scared off the attacker momentairly.

Kitty was able to drag herself to her apartment buiding where the attacker returned 15 minutes later and stabbed her fatally. It was 15 minutes after the fatal stabing that police first received a phone call, 30 minutes after her first scream.

If someone called the police right after the first scream, the whole story could have had an entire different ending. Some say people didn't call because they were being selfish, they didn't want the attaker to turn on them. While others argue they thought some one else would call and they felt less obligated to do so, otherwise known as the bystander effect. Only the people who heard her screams could really know the answer behind their decision.

I was really blown away by this case when I read it in undergrad and it still makes me wonder what will happen if I am in a situation where I depend on the help of a stranger. Would I be ignored by a bystander? I would like to say that I would have called the police if I heard Kitty scream, but I wasn't there, and this was not to be my call to action.

Perhaps this is why I enjoy being a part of OYFP, because I am taking action in the community around me. Either way, the story today about the passenger on the bus in reminds us all, to step up and take action when we see another person in need of help. Will you?

No comments: