Who Are You?
Are we mice or men? Leaders or followers? Winners or losers? Action takers or bystanders?
Most people would probably answer that we are men, leaders, winners and action takers. The sad truth is, that this is simply not true. The media has shown portrait after portrait proving this point.
The bystander effect has invaded our world. At its best, it is a twist on mob mentality. It is not a new phenomenon. It’s history dates back to the bible. For example, this is clearly seen in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells a story to a lawyer, who, in all other ways, is blameless and upright in God’s eyes. He obeys the Ten Commandments, and loves his neighbor as himself. But he asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus then in parable form explains, that everyone is everyone’s neighbor, and that help should be offered to anyone in need, regardless of who or what that person is.
A Jew is walking down a road and is attacked by bandits, who beat him profoundly, strip his clothes, rob him and leave him for dead. Sometime later, a priest walks by and when he sees the Jew, he moves to the other side of the road. He walked by without helping in any way. A Levite sees him as well and continues on his way without helping this man either.
A Samaritan (considered by the Jews to be outcasts) comes by, sees and immediately helps him, He takes the beaten man to a nearby inn, cares for him, and pays for his keep.
. “Which of these is the neighbor of the Jew who is beaten by robbers?” Jesus asked. “The merciful one,” replied the lawyer. Jesus told the lawyer to “Go and do likewise.”
Let’s take a look at Thomas Edison and his followers. Edison is famous for his many inventions and electrical achievements but did you know his experiments were cruel and unusual?
Thomas Edison electrocuted Topsy the Elephant and many other animals including: horses, lions, tigers, and bears. Edison was happy to aid the state of New York by executing these “menaces to society.” He did this by employing alternating currents, but his ulterior motive was designed to show the world the danger of the alternating current, invented by Nikola Tesla, which was his arch-rival. Edison’s direct current didn’t have the strength to electrocute an elephant, and he considered it safer. How did he show the public how safe the current was?
On January 4, 1903, at Luna Park Zoo, Coney Island, Topsy the Elephant was connected to Edison’s lighting plant, and electrocuted with 6,600 volts of AC. Of course this was after she had been fed cyanide soaked carrots to ensure her death. Topsy had been determined to be a permanent threat to humans because she had killed three handlers on three occasions. One of the incidents involved a handler, who regularly whipped her and tried to feed her a lighted cigarette just to watch her suffer. She stomped on him.
Amazingly 1,500 people watched, and no one said a word in complaint. Edison filmed the electrocution, which is available on You Tube. Isn’t it outrageous that the ASPCA, which is supposed to protect the rights of animals, considered hanging to be cruel, but had no problem with cyanide poisoning and electrocution?
There are many other incidents of the bystander effect in our history. Probably the most famous example would be the Holocaust. Let’s just all close our eyes to man’s inhumanity to man. Let someone else take care of it.
Today, not only is the bystander effect still in existence but there is also the technology available for it to go viral through social media and by other means. We can now truly destroy a person in all ways.
The recent rape conviction of two 16 year old Ohio teens is just another example of the bystander effect. Many teens were witnesses. Did they help the incapacitated teen? No, they took pictures and sent text messages to their friends.
Do you think any of these people are leaders and winners? If you do, maybe we all need to take a harder look at the definition of these terms. In closing I want you to ask yourself…who am I?