What I find interesting about the popular "how could you just stand and watch but not do anything!" argument is the guaranteed extreme
you will receive whether you do act or you do not. If you do
act, you will be placed on a high pedestal; a selfless hero who risked their
safety to come to the aid of another human being. Whereas if you do not
act, you will be cast down into the pits of hell and likened to the
actual perpetrator of the crime. But I ask this: can there not be a grey area? Surely since most other issues involve a grey area, the actions (or
inactions) of the bystander can be judged as neutral?
I often see people asking "how could they just stand there and do nothing?" when addressing bystanders who see another person become the victim of
some act of aggression or violence. Now, obviously many people who ask such questions do so rhetorically: they pose the question not for an answer,
but for an effect on the reader. Well, I am going to give some explanations anyway. Why? Maybe because I have become disillusioned with seeing so many
older people claim how "the younger generations are selfish and lack the will to help others who are in danger".
Before I do, I would like to make a couple of things crystal clear:
1. There is a clear difference between attempting to help somebody using low-risk means, and doing nothing at all.
For example, if you see somebody getting beaten up, calling for help (cops, ambulance) or shouting at the perpetrator from a distance to stop their
behaviour is better than shrugging your shoulders and filming the encounter.
2. I have myself been the victim of a crime where there were bystanders who did not actively help at the time, and I have no ill-feelings towards
them. So when I discuss this topic, I do have some frame of reference to speak from.
As for the reasons:
Natural fear of danger
Most people don't like danger if they can avoid it. Why increase your chance of encountering danger by taking high-risk actions, when doing so has no
guarantee of helping another person experiencing the same danger? There is no logical reason to do so.
While most people will applaud you for doing the "right" thing if you do step in, the law will interpret your behaviour objectively. It is not unheard
of for initial bystanders to transform into victims of lawsuits and even imprisonment for acting in a way the law deems excessive or disproportionate
to the danger at the time.
There are so many examples of people who were initially bystanders turning into additional miserable victims that getting involved does not usually
seem worth the risk.
It's easy to judge a bystander for their inaction if you were not present at the scene. While bystanders should be encouraged to use low-risk means to
help others when the opportunity arises, it cannot be expected of them to automatically accept the danger and repercussions that accompany coming to
the aid of a stranger who they do not owe anything to.
One of the most important lessons I have learned so far in life is this: you simply cannot expect of others what you expect of yourself.
edit on 14/6/2016 by Dark Ghost because: dangling modifiers