There’s a video going around lambasting a woman for insulting, cursing, belittling an old cleaner. I was disgusted by the woman in the video but bewildered and just a smidgen scornful of what happened behind the lens too.
Why did no one think of standing up and then telling the woman off on the spot? esp when one clearly feels strongly? What’s the point of near cyber bullying, where the other party can neither defend or explain themselves? (Hey, for all you know, she is manic depressive) or defending the weak and downtrodden over a medium that they are unlikely to access to and only where and when they cannot feel the comfort that they are not facing this alone?
This came on the heels of another report just a day or two back about a twelve year old boy who ran to help drivers caught in an accident because surrounding witnesses were too busy taking photos and videos of the incident. Defenders of those witless bystanders had since come out to say that it was important that some people take photographic evidence for followup investigations- which I find a whole lot of bull, since immediate lifesaving trumps subsequent blame apportionment any time.
Both incidents speak of a citizenry who has forgotten how to take meaningful action, of a people who fear participation in a public space and who shy away from confrontation even if the occasion calls for, no, demands, it. It’s the age of cyber social justice warriors- sitting comfortably on their moral high horse safely tucked away from harsh reality, full of sound and fury, but ultimately signifying nothing.
I’m contributing to this culture. I’m personally confrontational by nature- my chiropractor learnt the hard way that pain turns on my ‘fight’ rather than ‘flight’ switch (Noises in the night and supernatural elements on the other hand… My good friends have stories to tell about me in a horror house… ) I’m also vocal and have no qualms about speaking my mind.
Yet I stopped the lil boss when he had toddled after an older boy to get the latter to put the toys where they belonged in a toy store. He was right and I did help him put the toys back, but his minion preferred that he avoid trouble with the kid – I’m still questioning that decision.
I also remember a childhood incident. A full gang of cousins and I were out at Pasir Ris Park in the godforsaken hours during one of our family chalet stays when we heard some bloodcurdling cries in the middle of a hedge maze. We observed for a while but not seeing anything and not daring to go nearer, one of my cousins called the police. This being the days before we all have our own hand phones, he left his mother’s phone number as a contact. When the police followed up thereafter to say they did not pick up anything, the adults were outraged and we heard no end of it.
We all teach our kids to stand up for what is right but when the moment comes, we shy away because we also want our kids not to rock the boat, get uncomfortable, court trouble, pay the costs for doing doing so. That’s what all well-meaning parents do non? Try to pave a smoother route through life for our kids as much as we dare and protect them as long as we can from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?
I am just learning that perhaps a better way is to let the kid go ahead and do what’s right, then stand by their side and deal with what consequences may come. Bruises be damned: we can deal with trouble. Admittedly easier said than done- it flies against every protective instinct that is coded into my fundamental being, but the results methinks may be well worth it.