Monday, April 26, 2010

Helping a Stranger... Would You Really?

I think this is going to be a hot topic today.  I hope it is because it needs to be discussed.  A homeless man in New York rushed to the aid of a woman being attacked.  He was stabbed and was bleeding on the sidewalk.  For an hour and a half people walked past him, someone took a picture of him, but no one helped him or called the police.  This man, Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, was finally found by firefighters but had already past away.  Click here to be linked to the article from New York Post.

I am very disappointed that all of those people walked past a man in need of help.  As a society we are very much in the frame of mind that we should mind our own business.  Well, under normal situations, I would agree.  But if I see someone in true need, I will step in.  I'm not saying I would be a hero and jump in the middle of something but a call to the police is an easy thing to do.  When all of these people were walking past this poor man there was no threat.  Why wouldn't they get him help?  The fact that he was bleeding was clear, especially to the man who picked up his head and shook him.

Are we all so wrapped up in our own lives that we can't take the time to help another?   This isn't the only time something like this has happened.  This happens so often that there is actually a term for this phenomenon:  the bystander effect.  The bystander effect theory states that the more people who witness an emergency then the less likely they are to react.  If there are very few witnesses to an event, then the likely hood of a witness helping is higher.  Why is this?  Well, peer pressure plays a big rule in this phenomena.  If there is a large group of people but no one is reacting to an event then people feel that a reaction is unwarranted or inappropriate.  Another reason, is that in a larger group the pressure to react is smaller there is the belief that someone else will react if an individual does not.  Basically, we are all waiting for someone else to step up and take charge.

I can understand these theories and how they could play out.  But at some level, our sense of humanity is missing.  Although we are all caught up in our lives, we are still part of a community, a nation, and a world.  Somewhere along the way, I think we are loosing our empathy to others.  It's sad to think of this poor man laying there for all that time in need of help.  It's sad when you think that tragedy happens everyday to everyone and that man was someone's loved one.  Any of those 20 people who walked passed that man would be outraged if it had been someone they know and loved.  I hope this story makes people more aware but I'm afraid it won't.  

I really try not to judge people and know that things always look different to the person in the situation.  However, to me this is so basic.  A man is bleeding on a sidewalk... there shouldn't be a question about the right thing to do.  We all try to be generous and have our causes that we support.  When my mom was sick, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and family.  Is it possible that's its easier to write a check to a cause then to actually help an individual who is suffering?  Everyone of those people had the power to save a life today.  What does everyone else think?


  1. Following you now! Thanks for visiting my site and entering my giveaway! I am glad that you are interested in natural nontoxic products. Good for you! Beautiful blog, by the way.

  2. I hear stories like this all the time, and it is unbelievable! What is wrong with people? I wonder if the same thing had happened in a small southern town, if this would have had the same result. I have never been to New York, and nor do I was to overgeneralize about New Yorkers. I am just curious if the bystander effect is more prevalent in busy, crowded cities...?

  3. That's a good point... I think in small towns more people know each other so maybe it's less of an issue. It's just so sad.

  4. i am truly saddened by this. I live in NY and it is not unusual to see homeless person passed out on the sidewalk. However, this man was in the middle of the sidewalk and somehow it should have seemed odd to have him there. It is a fine line between having a home and homelessness. This man was worthy of even just a call to 911 for help. It might have been nothing but how can someone just pass . You are right somehow , the human element has gone , and society has become callus

  5. Wow, what a sad situation. I often feel like I wish I could help people, but I talk myself out of it because I'm 1) a woman, what can I do? (like helping push a car out of snow.) 2) it's inconvenient and so I don't make the step. But, I'm proud to say that yesterday I stopped at a corner and gave some food to a lady who needed help. (note, I live in a small town in Idaho, so it's not like NY or anything.) But, I guarantee, or hope, if I saw that man, I would have helped. Anyway, thanks for the thought.
    following now from MBC

  6. I, too, find it terribly disturbing that people can just walk by a person in need and go on their merry way. The season finale of Seinfeld actually touched on this topic, as I recall, when the characters were jailed for standing by while someone else was in trouble. I'm your newest follower from MBC. Come follow me at

  7. @KathyG: You're right, nowadays there are so many who are on the verge of being homeless. Homeless are not we all deserve help when in need. Thanks for visiting!

    @Christina: I think everyone questions when to help sometimes but it just upsets that so many people did.

    @Achristianmommy: Thanks for following... I'm following you back!

  8. Your fav movies is Layrinth??? My sister and I LOVE that movie, no one we know has seen it. David Bowie and those tights were a little weird lol. Especially since you can see his anatomy through them. Oh well, blast from the past. Jennifer Connoly's first movie I think.

  9. It is such a shame what our society is becoming.



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