In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell asserted that studies show someone is less likely to be helped if in trouble in a crowd. In other words, the more people present in an emergency the less likely anyone will help. Possibly because people are all expecting that someone else will act.
However, I would like to venture a thought. It often takes just one person to act, as scared and unprepared they may be, for others to follow.
The human chain that rescued a family caught in a riptide off a Florida beach in the summer of 2017.
In the summer of 2017 a family got pulled into a riptide off a Florida beach. There were plenty of beachgoers on the beach, but it took just one person to start a human chain and encourage people, strangers from all walks of life, to hold hands and reach out for those in difficulty. Some 80 people formed that human chain at one person’s instigation, and a family was saved.
A few days ago I left the post office and merged on to a busy road. Cars were stopping up in front of me and a car had pulled to a halt almost in the middle of the road. I looked around and there was a woman out of the car and chasing something across the street. The something turned out to be an orange cat that had been hit by a car. Back obviously broken it was dragging its paralyzed back legs across the asphalt. When I caught up to them the cat was lodged against the gutter (obviously couldn’t climb on to the sidewalk) and was hissing in panic at the woman.
I’m terrified of cats and allergic to them, I don’t know what to do but I didn’t want anyone to run over it. She told me.
Not the cat in the story, but an orange cat will always remind me to take action going forward.
I went back to my car, grabbed a blanket and put it over the cat. I picked it up, lay it on my lap and drove to my vet. The cat’s last 15 minutes of life were calm and close to my body -thanks to that terrified and allergic woman who stopped.
Martin Luther King said: The problem we will have to repent for in our day and age is …… the appalling silence and inaction of good people.
So, the moral of this story is : Try to be the first person to take action. But if you can’t be that first person, make damn sure you’re the second. Action has magic, grace and power in it.*
*Wolfgang von Goethe