I’m kind of an ad nerd, and love the Liberty Mutual spots where people help each other and it causes a beautiful, random-acts-of-kindness-type of butterfly effect.
My parents and grandparents raised me to be a Good Samaritan from a young age – holding doors for a mom struggling with a stroller, offering to shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway, showing the new kid the ropes at school.
Paying it forward. Good juju. Positive karma. No matter what you want to call it, I believe in putting it out there, because you ultimately get back from the cosmos what you put into it.
My two get those same lessons from Jeff and I now in the hopes that as they get older, having empathy for those around them will become second nature. That their first reaction will always be a positive one.
What blows my mind however, is parents that feel the complete opposite when it comes to random acts of kindness. I call it “The Blind-Eye Effect,” and consider its impact catastrophic.
People are ignoring what’s going on right in front of them.
I was late meeting a girlfriend for a moms-night-out event last night. As I rushed down the street, I noticed a small group trudging along in front of me – a young woman, two men with severe Down’s Syndrome, and one middle-aged man with a walker and obvious mental and motor control disabilities.
The man with the walker managed to catch that walker in every crack in the sidewalk, pitching precariously from side to side as he made his way through the crowd of people enjoying a night out on the town. The young woman was doing her best to keep the group together, but honestly, I was surprised she didn’t have additional support along with her.
I powered along, checking my watch, and when I was right behind them, the man with the walker suddenly and violently fell forward, falling spread-eagled onto the sidewalk as the walker went flying into the street.
Passersby quickly side-stepped the fallen man, looking on curiously but silently. Without even thinking about it, I jogged over to two disabled men and led them to a store front so they could wait there, then quickly went back to the woman and the fallen man. The poor thing couldn’t get up, and as she and I did our best to hook him under the arms and hoist him to a kneeling position, I noticed several sturdy-looking men and women, and a few groups of college students watching us. Not one person offered to help.
A little girl about my son’s age and her mother pulling into a parallel parking spot right near us, and as they got out of the car, little girl asked her mom what was happening and if they should help. The mom told her to look away and not get near us.
Why? What would have been so terrible about lending a hand?
Later on, I couldn’t help wondering. How do parents choose one lesson over the other? How do parents choose figurative blindness to compassionate sight? How does the decision between “The Blind-Eye Effect” and for the sake of argument, “The Good Samaritan Effect” come to be?
What do you teach your children about helping others?
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Photo source: morguefile