Thursday, August 04, 2005

Compassion and Apathy

Contemplata aliis Tradere has this story of both.

He frames the story in the light of the recent WWJD tagline. One woman's a hero. Many are not:
What do you do in that situation? I definitely hesitated - I was thinking: there's no way I'll be the first person to do something here, there are so many other people about. And then, suddenly, I had a very quick realisation that no one else was going to do anything. I put my bag down and went to get my phone. Then I went to the man and said, "Sit down," because he was sort of wheeling about, taking his shirt off and saying, "Look, look."

But as soon as he sat down he started to go a bit floppy. I kept looking round expecting other people to engage with him as well, but no one did. I was trying to call 999 on my phone, and I think he sat on one of the fold-down seats in the centre of the bus. He started to breathe a bit heavily. I wanted him to lie down because obviously he was wounded. Things started to happen quickly. I was calling 999 and trying to get him lying down at the same time. He was quite a big guy, not huge but an adult man, much bigger than me, and at that point I couldn't physically do both things at once, so I called out, "Can someone help me? Can someone help me?" Nothing happened. No one made eye contact. I couldn't quite believe it.
Who would we be? The woman, or the crowd? I'd like to think I'd be her. I've had first aid and emergancy preparedness training. I know that the most effective way to get others involved is to personally request aid, as in "you, call 911!". Asking for anyone leaves everyone waiting for someone else. Group psychodynamics suck that way.

But would I? I can be as selfish as the next one. My selfish insentives would be to avoid trouble and not get involved. Would compassion overule them? I hope so. That's the problem. That kind of hope, that wistful and almost fanciful wishing-kind, is not the hope the Holy Spirit empowers us with. I do not need to wish to be able to help. I need to decide to do so. That means I need to decide to let Christ lead through me.

How many of us are prepared to do that?