People want little to do with the influence of the lives of one another. Selfishness and the basic instinct of self preservation plays strongly in determining what most people do. What do you do when you see someone in danger? Do you call for help? Do you help? Or maybe you are like most people. You just look away. After all, out of sight out of mind.
Is this how people with the ability to think and reason should act? I would say no. I would say we are given our intellect and awareness for the benefit of everyone. If I see someone lying on the street I do whatever I can to help. Even if it is just waiting for an EMT to arrive. Why is it then that so many people cower under the responsibility of their free will? How can so many of us consider ourselves to be “good people”, when we don’t even hesitate to ignore a problem.
It is our actions that make us good or bad people. It is what we say and do that makes us different from the animals and the insects. We may be born as animals, but is our social conditioning that turns us into something more than just a simple creature.
Ok, I am strong enough to admit to myself that if I saw someone in danger. I would ignore it and hope the problem went away. I don’t need to do anything someone else will.
It is this very thought that doesn’t make us “good people”. I know when I finally came to terms with this I was appalled by my actions. I knew it was too late to change the past but I can and will change the present. But, no sooner than I had made this decision than an opportunity came knocking.
It was late at night, around 11:30 or so and I was walking home from the convenience store. I decided to take a different route home than I usually do. As I walked down the hill I saw an old man stumbling in the street. My initial reaction was to ignore it after all this is the city and he is probably drunk.
As I got closer I could see this clearly was not the case, he had blood all over his face. He hobbled his way up to me.
“Where, how, far… is the hospital?” I looked at him almost bewildered, about a hundred things ran through my mind, most of them being. What do I do? I pointed off to the North.
“It’s over there. But it is over a mile away. Maybe I can call you a cab…” As we were talking he walked closer to me and I could see he clearly was in no shape to stand let alone walk.
“I don’t have money, I’m homeless.” That was unexpected, I thought surely he must be some sort of business man, but the homeless around here do have good winter clothes donated to them.
“Hmmm, ok. Wait here and I’ll call an ambulance then.” I didn’t have my phone on me either, I wasn’t expecting to make a call since I only lived a few blocks from the store.
“Noo, nooo, noo. I can’t…” He continued to walk off in the general direction I had pointed earlier. I didn’t know what to do, I had never been presented with anything like this. I stood for a moment just watching him walk away.
“Hey!” I ran up to him. “Let me get my car and I will take you to the hospital myself. Just wait right here. Don’t go anywhere. I will be right back!” Looking at him, his injuries didn’t appear as bad as I initially thought.
“I’ll, i’ll go with you.” He did not want to be left alone. To be honest I couldn’t blame him, I mean who was to say I would ever come back. So I helped him put his arm over my shoulder and we slowly walked the next two blocks towards my car. As we got closer I propped him against a building and I ran to the garage to get my car. When I got back to him he had walked but a few feet and had fallen. Quickly I helped him back up and got him in the vehicle. I buckled him in and saw his hand had swollen tot eh size of a balloon. He told me that a bunch of kids had jumped him. I asked why he didn’t go to the police and he said he did but they didn’t care about a homeless old man. I quickly glanced at him and continued driving. When we arrived at the hospital I walked him in and made sure he was taken care of before I left. The staff there had assured me that what I had done the right thing, and all he had was a broken hand and a few bruises. Looking back I know this was probably not the best course of action to take, but it was better than nothing.
By taking responsibility for my actions instead of ignoring the problem I was able to help an injured old man. The more you take responsibility for your actions the easier it becomes to make the “right” decisions and to become a genuine good person.
How can I start taking responsibility for my actions?
1. To take responsibility I need to look at myself and my surroundings objectively. The more detached I am from a situation the better I can study it. I have found it useful to visualize the situation and myself outside of my body. This lets the situation or problem to act more like a movie and it gives me a perspective I previously didn’t have.
2. I have identified the problem and I need to take action. Whatever I do, I will not ignore whatever is going on. When I ignore the situation I am presented with, my problems will quickly grow beyond my control.
3. I’m not afraid to say to myself I am wrong.
Oops I made the wrong decision. This means not only saying I am wrong but also could mean saying I am the source of my problem. In facing my darker side, I am able to finally take responsibility for my actions and change them for teh better. By doing this I inevitably gain more power over myself and my surroundings.