Proof that we need to change...

If, on your way to work tomorrow morning, you passed by an old man laying unconscious in the street, would you help him? Would you stop to see if he is okay? What if it were the middle of winter, the streets covered in snow, temperatures dipping below zero? Or what if you were in a hurry – if you were late for work. Would you stop then?

I would like to think that, for the majority of people, a situation like that would illicit an automatic reaction. That seeing someone, even a stranger, in need of assistance would ignite within you the natural desire to help a fellow human being. It would seem though, that the desire to help isn't as natural as an optimistic fellow like myself would like to believe.

I found this article a while back – so while it may not be recent news, I don't think it any less relevant. I know I speak often about the disconnection between people in the world today – about the lack of social awareness and the increasingly isolated nature of society. And if you've ever had any doubts about the things I have said or the opinions I have shared, maybe this is proof enough that something needs to change.

A retired gardener nearly died pf hypothermia when he collapsed in the street and passers-by ignored him for 5 hours. Great grandfather Brian Courtney was walking to his doctor's surgery when he fell unconscious to the pavement at about 8am. Hundreds of pedestrians and motorists breezed past the 77 year old and someone finally dialled 999 at 12:40pm. When paramedics arrived minutes later, his body temperature had fallen to 26C (78.8F) and he was nearly dead. Mr Courtney, who suffers from a Kidney condition, was taken to hospital and doctors were amazed he survived the ordeal in Central Salisbury, Wiltshire. 'I can't believe that nobody stopped to help him,' said his daughter Karen Paddington. 'It makes you question how caring people really are here.'.

You can all it the bystander effect, or Genovese syndrome, or whatever else you like - but I can't help but feel that giving it a name only serves to apply reason to what is an incredibly unreasonable display of social irresponsibility.

I could share my thoughts, but feel as if all I can say is that I am sincerely disappointed. Do you remember when your parents would be so utterly upset with you – your careless and irresponsible actions causing them so much anguish that they simply had no energy left to be angry. That is how reading this makes me feel. Disappointed.

If there was ever a time I could use some feedback, it is now. Share your thoughts on this. Share them with me, and everyone else you know. Tell us how this makes you feel. Tell us that you would have helped...

[Feel free to post your thoughts as comments – or if you'd rather keep them private you can email me at – I guess what I am chasing after are your opinions on how things go to be this way. Was it always like this, or are things getting worse?]


  1. "but I can't help but feel that giving it a name only serves to apply reason to what is an incredibly unreasonable display of social irresponsibility."

    I disagree with you on this Greg. Well, it's not really disagreeing - it does apply reason to the phenomenon, but it is a reasonable display a human behaviour (meaning, it can be explained). I do agree that it is irresponsible. What I'm trying to say is that giving it a name and a reason does serve a purpose. It helps understand the problem and how to deal with it. Let me quote from

    "So, the takeaway here is to remember you are not so smart when it comes to helping people. In a crowded room, or a public street, you can expect people to freeze up and look around at each other.

    Knowing that, you should always be the first person to break away from the pack and offer help – or attempt escape – because you can be certain no one else will."

  2. @Marco

    Well said (or quoted) Marco. I guess you are right, in that, it can be explained, and the explanation is a reasonable one. My disappointment got the better of me there I think. But what we can agree on is the need to break away from that kind of human behavior. It's one thing to feel reservation in involving yourself in unknown matters - due to the risk it may pose to your own personal safety, I can understand the effect in that sense - but when it comes to an elderly man, lying unconscious in the snow, you would think the game would change. You know? Of course you do! Good to that at the end of the day, were on the same side of things.

  3. This is a tough one. I've started to type a few times, but I keep deleting what I've written. I think it is because I don't want to admit that I would not step up. I have never been in the situation you described, and I hope that if I am ever faced with something like that that I will do the right thing. However, I have been in situations where someone needed to stand up/speak out/step in, and it wasn't me. Like Marco's quote says, I just looked around waiting for someone else to make the first move. It's rather hard to think that your inaction may have disastrous effects. Coming face to face with that in yourself is hard. Maybe now that I've tossed this around in my mind for a while, I will step up next time. It's funny how just thinking about something can put you out of your comfort zone. Wonder what actually doing something would do...