Saturday, January 18, 2014

Are You A Rare Human?

When humans fail to assist there are more questions than answers.
See No Evil - digital photograph
1. Would you help a stranger who collapses near you in the street?
2. Would you help a stranger who collapses near you in a shop?
3. Would you render any level of assistance a person being attacked in a public place?
4. Would you help strangers you witness being verbally abused with insults and charges of racism at an exhibition you attended? 
Did you answer yes to all situations? Give some consideration to the following scenarios. In every case the event is real, in my case three of these situations I experienced. See if you can put yourself into the position of the "victim" and/or witness then check your answers again. If you still answer faithfully yes you are, in my view, a rare human. 

1. Quite a few years ago now I was out to lunch with companions, as we entered a cafe to make our order a young woman on the outside was struggling to stay standing. She appeared to gain her balance and looked to be about to walk away so I turned to enter the cafe. My lunch companions hadn't noticed anything other than my slight absence and asked what happened to me. When I described what caused my delay some of their reactions startled me which I comment on further down. We made our orders and were about to take a seat when I noticed the same woman now leaning on the cafe window and now sinking to the ground in a complete faint. People outside and inside the cafe were near her, seeing her collapse, but not even those right next to her were offering assistance. They were simply observing or pretending not to notice though passing a sideways glance. Their reactions including those of my own companions suggested to me they thought something else was wrong with her to make her collapse. I immediately went to assist whilst onlookers sat or stood still. I sought the assistance of the cafe staff and they very reluctantly called for an ambulance (what was that about?). I asked if there was any place to take her that was more private so she could lay flat off the concrete and they even more reluctantly suggested the room at the back of the kitchen. It was all rather concerning. She was young, neatly attired, not ranting or making a scene, she had just quietly collapsed. People avoided making any contact with her though and looked on, some in obvious negative judgement, some had expressions akin to pity or embarrassment, for her(?), it was difficult to interpret. it transpired she'd been on her way to an appointment at a nearby hospital to have tests because she had begun fainting without warning on a regular basis. I'm sure a percentage thought she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or some other ailment, but to a degree, this attitude of prior judgement based upon visual observation and perhaps a learnt bias stopped them from duly rendering assistance to a person in need. Some of my colleagues stated they just didn't want to get involved which is possibly an attitude mirrored by the others. Perhaps witnesses variously thought; its nothing to do with me; someone else will help; I don't know what to do; I don't wish to get involved; it is a stranger to me. When I asked my companions, so, you'd just leave her lying there? I did not receive a life affirming response. It shocked me a little then and still now.
Q: Most bystanders in the vicinity of this woman, who could have assisted, failed to do so and with a deliberate intention to not do so. Why?
2. Quite a few years ago my father past away from a heart attack. He had been queueing at the post office to pay his bills and do some personal banking. It was about 3pm. When he collapsed not one other person in the shop, the queue or service counter assisted. A person who entered after the attack had commenced immediately attempted to render assistance and called on the post office staff to do something. Only then did they call an ambulance. They didn't stop serving customers and the original customers didn't stop to help or see if they could assist the one person who did stop and stayed by my father whilst he was convulsing and unconscious. A few years earlier my father confessed to me he had collapsed in the street whilst holidaying in Sydney. He had lost consciousness then too, he didn't know for how long, and when he came to, he was alone, people were just continuing to hurry past him. He picked himself up and carried on. 
Q: In the first instance one person attempted to provide another with comfort and assistance in a crisis. In the earlier instance in a busier location no one did. Why?
3. Disturbingly in this recent case of attempted abduction no one came to the aid of the woman screaming she did not know her attacker, nor has anyone come forward as a witness later to the event that happened in broad daylight in a busy Sydney street. There were plenty of onlookers. People did nothing. No one approached after she managed her own rescue to see if she was unhurt or needed to call family or friends. 

"Someone could have grabbed a number plate. Even now, no one has come forward [to police]. There are no witnesses. I just think people should speak out..."

Q: Why, even later on when safe to do so, would no one come forward to confirm the incident and assist to describe the offender/s, or the car?
4. In 2009 at an art show opening the gallery director loudly and persistently in an ugly incident denounced two artists who's exhibition opening it was, as being racist. Their, "racism" and "racist art" were to leave his gallery. The gallery director, Robert Cripps was not to be reasoned with. Defence of the charge of racism was dismissed with further shouting the artists were to leave their own opening event. This was in front of 30 - 40 people (visitors and gallery attendants), most of whom will have understood who each of the people involved were and what was being declared and why. No one came forward to intervene or state that they disagreed with such claims, people turned their backs and even those close gave only side glances. Focus was on the loud declarations of Cripps and it achieved its aim which was to isolate and humiliate the accused, my co-exhibitor, in particular, and myself. We were summarily evicted then and once more on a subsequent occasion. No one came after us. No one attempted contact to offer support. 
The isolation was deliberate and effective.
Q: Why, even later, when safe to do so did no witness lend support? 
That no one did offer support at the time or later ensured two things. 1. Emboldened the person holding such views. 2. Assisted in and amplified the isolation of the accused.
In events 3 & 4 the victims were deliberately isolated from the "herd" and made more vulnerable by the lack of response of witnesses. This isolation amplifies justification in the mind of the attacker that this is a successful strategy. Such isolation of the victim would embolden attacker/s because no one will or did intervene. In animal training on a very basic level I believe this constitutes positive reinforcement.

Some of the events described above are non threatening, some are intimidating for onlookers "witnesses". In all cases assistance was not forthcoming, if not consciously withheld, by witnesses.

Do these few scenarios describe more than just anecdotal confirmation of my preposition suggesting, that humans are more innately unwilling to render assistance? Despite what we might want to believe about humanity and selflessness humans instead are innately selfish and there is no such thing as an innate predisposition to protect and render assistance. This is the innateness that must be overcome.

In my experience such a being is a rare human. In my experience direct witnesses lack positive contribution and where an attacker is involved witnesses have provided for further or future attacks by extension as they enabled the attacker through their deliberate lack of assistance in the first instance.

So tell me, are you a rare human?

About Leeanneart

My photo
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
We are first and foremost human with a responsibility to the humanity within us and not to any faith, political, apolitical, social or societal group, union or faction. We are responsible for our own reputation, and for what deeds we do and what achievements or otherwise in life we enjoy. The rest is nonsense.