One of the things you will learn about in a big city is how much you value your own life over anyone else’s.
I see homeless people a lot in London. Not too frequently, but they are around. Most of them are the hard-core homeless who have chosen their designated homeless spots and have a suitcase, dog and several belongings. It used to make me feel extremely sad to see a person living on the street, but now I have gotten used to it and they blend into the grimy city setting. It doesn’t help that some of them shout out nasty things at passersby, like asking me if I’ll take them home with me and things like that. The city has killed me a little bit.
One day I was walking along the street with Adrian when I noticed a homeless person with no belongings and no dog completely passed out in an unnatural position.
“I think he might dead,” Adrian said. “Maybe we should do something.”
“I think he might be dead too,” I said. “But it’s just not worth the risk. What if he is alive and he’s holding a knife? Or he is a complete crazy? We should just leave him. If he really is dead the cops will find him.”
This is a person’s life! And I chose – on more than one occasion – to let a person I thought was probably dead just continue to lie halfway on a bench or sprawled out on a very public sidewalk.
But it’s true. You can’t take the risk in London. It’s easy to say, sitting there safely in front of your expensive computer screen, that you would have done something. Stop kidding yourself and get off your fat high horse. No you wouldn’t have done anything. I make this statement based on the observation that no one does anything, and there are numerous examples and studies showing that people will generally defer responsibility when there are other people around who are capable of helping.
Hundreds of people walk by the potentially dead in London and no one except police officers does a thing.
This translates into a bigger discussion about helping people in need, like if they are being mugged down an alley and you witness it.
It is a dilemma, though. It sucks to stand by and watch bad things happening and not do anything about it because you hope someone will help you if you were in that situation. If a woman gets her purse (bag) snatched, do you run after the guy and risk getting knifed and killed over a purse, or do you let it keep happening and hope it doesn’t happen to you or anyone you know?
This was the basis of the movie Kick-Ass. Although I thought it wasn’t very good, I really liked the message. It would probably be a lot easier to make these kinds of decisions if we knew everyone would always help out.