Updated: Jun 25
As often as we turn on the television or read the news, we are struck by man’s inhumanity to man. We are assaulted by tales of senseless violence and cruelty. Old women are raped, children are killed, and lives are destroyed… for what? In each case, the guilty excuse themselves from responsibility. Blaming drugs, madness, or unintended consequences. Yet the harm is still done, and the victims still suffer. We lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that we are different, we are good. Yet we walk by when others need our help.
Sure, we are not the ones burning shops, breaking into houses, or killing co-workers, but nor are we the ones standing up to the mob, aiding our neighbours, or helping strangers. It is not enough to not take part in evil, we must resist it. We must be that light that repels the dark.
Let me provide an example. I work in the deserts of northern Western Australia. A few weeks ago, as I was driving down a quiet stretch of road, I came across a ute (light truck) crashed on the side of the road. As I hadn’t seen the ute there the day before, I pulled over to check if there was anyone in it and if they needed help. In this case, the car had obviously been stolen as it was filled with sticks and reeked of petrol. I reported it and moved on. A few kilometres on, I came across a young woman walking down the road, trying to hitch a ride. Being a bit wary considering the stolen car I’d found, I pulled over a bit ahead of her. I called our security team at the camp and got them to swing by and pick her up.
Now, this is nothing overly dramatic. Yet in the time I waited, at least a dozen cars drove by both the girl and the car and did not stop to help. I spoke to many of the people in my team who had driven by the car about this and they all said that it wasn’t their business so they had just driven by. In this case, no harm was done, yet it could have been. There could have been an injured driver in the car, and they could have died a lonely death as everyone just drove by. The young girl could have perished in the desert as everyone thought of their own safety and comfort.
How often does this happen? How often do we allow harm to occur by minding our own business? Again, a few days later, as we left the camp, we saw a car break down leaving the parking lot. It was the start of the day and everyone was hurrying to leave the camp and get to work. Yet again, people were so focused on their own business that they did not stop to help the driver, instead, choosing to drive around them or leave through other exits. My workmate and I stopped and helped them push their car back to a parking spot where we could jump-start it.
On getting to work, my friend asked one of the guys who had driven by as we had been pushing the car why he’d not stopped to help. The man’s answer was quite instructive. He said he had not seen that it was us pushing the car, otherwise, he would have helped. In other words, he did not stop as he did not recognise any of the people in trouble as people he knew. To him, it was more important to get to work early than to help someone else out.
These situations show the great problem in our world so clearly. We are so focused on ourselves that we pass by those who need our help. We justify our inaction by saying someone else will do it, or we pretend that our lives are too precious to risk. We tell ourselves that we would help if we knew them, or if we were not in so great of a hurry. Yet the outcome is that we take no action. We allow bad things to happen to others and yet decry the injustice when misfortunes happen to us and no one helps us. How can we complain that others do not help us if we will not even help others when it costs us nothing?
If we want to live in a world where people will help us if we need it and protect us if we are attacked, then we need to ‘be the change’ first. Develop the habit of concerning yourself with the welfare of others. If you see someone who you can help… help them. Use your common sense to keep yourself safe but do not allow yourself to leave someone in danger because of fear. It takes courage to do what is right, but the alternative is to simply delay the danger. By doing nothing to help today, we risk nothing, yet tomorrow we may be the one in need of help.
We can fight evil and make the world better by little acts of assistance to each other. Each good act is like the lighting of a single candle on a dark night. The first candle will only brighten a tiny space, yet if we persist and light more and more candles, the world will slowly become brighter and brighter. If we help others, they will be more likely to do the same. Our actions—good or bad—cause ripples in our societies. If we do good or bad, the effects radiate out and encourage others to do as we have done. If you turn aside from those who need help, you are helping to create a world where everyone turns aside. If you stop to help, you are helping to create a world where people stop to help.
It is up to you and to me to create a world worth living in. It is up to us to choose to live in a way that promotes the welfare of our families and our communities. No one else can do it for us. No one else can pay the price. If we want to live in a better world, then we must create it through our every word and deed.
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