It haunts me all the time, thinking back to the day I strolled down 3rd Street Promenade. Was I the only one who noticed? The poor bruised child scared out of her wits? The heavy tall robust man clutching her arms as they briskly walked past me?
Often times, people say we have this bystander effect where we believe that though there are misfortunes and tragedies in this world someone else will lend out a hand rather than ourselves helping out the unfortunate. It’s a social psychological phenomenon, it’s a mistake, and it’s what I’ll have to carry with me as a burden because I swear what I saw that chilling afternoon wasn’t just a regular day on the promenade.
I so want to believe that there is an altruistic good left in our world. I so want to hope that with all the human cruelty that persists from day to day, there is still a small pool of decency left in us. A spark that barely flickers in our tainted hearts. I regret that afternoon. I know it wouldn’t be my business and I, myself, could have been put in danger of the man with blood thirst eyes but I could have saved a young girl from her suffering.
To paint a better picture, here is what I remember from that day-
I was strolling down past a few pedestrian shoppers near 3rd St Promenade when I saw a young girl with a face that had looked like it’d been brutally assaulted. The inflammation of her most recent bruising stuck out like a tumor near her cheeks. Different shades of purple were displayed across her face that trailed up to her eyes. The moment we crossed paths felt as though a lifetime of pain was shot into my eyes as I saw her sorrows manifest the air. In those brief few seconds I noticed her raggedy clothes, her sniffling nose and sounds of a whimper as if she were choking back tears. She was dragged along by a man tightly gripping her arms. He looked like a menace. I so badly wanted to halt, turn around and question her distress, but what were they doing in broad daylight? If she was being tortured or even raped, would the kidnapper really bring her out in public? Biting my tongue, I shook away the crippling chills that pricked at my spine and turned the other cheek.
There is no happy ending to my passage down memory lane. In fact, there isn’t even an ending at all. But I do linger with the question…
If you were to brush past the two, would you have the humanity to stop them? Or would you have surrendered to bystander’s apathy… the way I had and am now disturbed by my own lack of action?