My phone rang at 5AM the other morning. It was a neighbour calling to share a concern.
I live in a high-rise condo building which is part of a two tower complex and have had the dubious honour of serving on the condo board for the past six years.
My neighbor was calling to tell me that as he was leaving the building, he encountered a drunk man attempting to gain entry to our lobby. He had called me because he felt I “should do something about it.”
This type of call is not unusual. In fact, I have been receiving more and more of these types of calls over the past two years or so.
I have had residents of our building knock on my door and ask me to knock on their neighbours door and ask them to turn their music down.
I have been asked by a resident to go into the parkade at 4:00AM because he “heard a noise down there” when he parked his car and felt I should “deal with it.”
I received a call at 3:15 one morning from a person calling to tell me that his neighbor’s daughter had parked her car in his parking spot and could I “please go and tell them to move their car.”
Over the past several months I have been woken in order to be informed of: people prowling in our underground garage, fights in the street, loud parties and otherwise rowdy behavior.
I do not live in a rough neighbourhood or high-crime area. I live in a very peaceful and crime free part of the city. We are, however, a city of 1.2 million people, and these things happen.
My reason for sharing these events with you has nothing to do with the events themselves but rather with the reason why all of my neighbors feel it is necessary to notify me and involve me in these issues.
I always ask the obvious question. Why don’t you call the police/knock on your neighbor’s door and ask him to turn the music down/call our security guards when you see unsavory characters in the building etc. etc. etc.
And always, sadly, the answer is the same “I don’t want to get involved.”
So it seems to me that if there is some fear – or risk – of getting involved then these folks, my neighbours, are choosing to pass that risk on to me as they believe my role as a member of our condo board is to assume their adult responsibilities.
Frankly, I have become disgusted. I agree that there are times where there may indeed be some risk in getting involved and I don’t advocate putting oneself in harm’s way, but I do not agree that, as adults, we should abdicate all responsibility and delegate our problems to a third-party simply because we “don’t want to get involved.”
Those folks who chose not to call the police because they to “didn’t want to get involved,” shared with me that they were concerned that the police might identify them as the complainant when dealing with these matters.
What I heard them say was not that they were concerned about being identified, but rather, that they were okay with me being identified as the complainant and were equally okay with me suffering any consequences that might occur should any of these events ever happen.
Regardless of the fact that it is not police protocol to reveal names of complainants the question is this, “What kind of society have we become?”
Several years ago a young lady was murdered in a residential community late one night. Her body was left on the streets until a passing taxi drove by and the driver called the police.
As is their practice, police officers canvassed the surrounding area asking neighbors if they had seen or heard anything. A large number of residents reported that they had heard screams and help cries for help at around 3:00 AM that morning.
Take a guess how many calls were made to the 911 police emergency number.
If you guessed zero, you would be correct.
The police were told repeatedly by neighbors, when asked why they had not called 911, the sad, pitiful, pathetic excuse “I do not want to get involved.”
I am not suggesting that we all rush heroically out in the open to fearlessly confront any danger that may be lurking, but what I am saying is that pretending you heard nothing is never the right thing to do.
A simple phone call to summon help for a fellow human is not merely an act of kindness or simply the right thing to do. It is the ONLY thing to do. It is unthinkable that the thought of not doing so would ever enter the mind of a fellow human.
I apologize if I appear to be ranting, it is not my intent. Perhaps I’m just tired of being woken at 3 in the morning. I have always believed that I am responsible for addressing my own issues and was always taught that there is no nobler act that one can perform than helping a fellow human in need.
We have many times discussed the fact that we only ever do one thing – we do what is important to us in the moment.
To my friends and neighbors who feel it is more important to have me deal with their concerns them because they lack the fortitude to do it themselves, and to those gutless, pathetic residents of the community who could not pick up the phone when hearing a terrified woman’s desperate cries for help, I can only suggest that you look in the mirror and examine your values.
Perhaps, at the same time, you can ask yourself how you would feel if ever you desperately needed help and there was none because no-one “wanted to get involved.”
Unless we shift away from the mindset of “somebody should do something – but not me,” I fear for our future.
Till we read again.
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P.S. I am very excited to share with you that my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
P.P.S. Two weeks ago I had the privilege of doing my first ever radio interview.. The topic of the interview was my book, Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours. Here is a link to my interview.
Yesterday I did my second interview. Here is the link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to them. Please contact me at email@example.com and share your thoughts.