We could hear an old man’s raspy screams for help around the corner.
I dialed 911.
Granted, we were in Ybor late at night and it could have been any number of situations, but the man’s tone indicated it wasn’t a joke.
What my friends and I’ witnessed was unbelievably brutal.
The old man was within the confines of an old church, surrounded by a green fence about as tall as the average person, standing at the top of the church stairs, blood running over his face from wounds inflicted on him by a drunken twenty-something man.
He told us later his assaulter strangled him in a headlock to stifle his calls for help.
The scene disturbed me to my core.
About six men and a woman in a Gothic club witnessed the attack and made no effort to stop it.
They looked on and did nothing.
Outside the gates of the church were people I assumed were the attacker’s friends.
One person spoke up and said, ‘Hey man, come on so we can go?”
He didn’t even say, ‘Hey man stop beating down on an old, helpless man.’
That was the extent of that group’s efforts to save the victim of that gruesome assault.
Farther down the sidewalk, another group of men were standing right beside the car my friends and I were going to leave in.
They, too, did nothing.
They were just looking at the scene while I was on the phone with the police.
This experience was a lesson to me on the coldness that we as human beings show toward one another.
There are some psychological explanations as to why events occur like social loafing (people make less effort when in groups than alone) and diffusion of responsibility (people less likely to act when responsibility is not explicitly assigned).
Still, it is hard to understand why we can’t just help someone in need.
In this situation everyone probably had a cell phone yet they decided not to use them.
One would think that even if an individual feels that they can not physically intervene in a violent situation, they would at least call on somebody who could.
I can only hope if I find myself in this situation, that my brothers and sisters (because we are all brothers and sisters) would come to my aid.
Could I have done more?
I could have yelled that the police were coming and maybe that would have’ scattered the group of criminals or maybe they would have come for me too.
I did what I could.
All that I or anyone can ask if in a situation like that is, ‘What can I do?’
And to do what you can is hardly ever ‘nothing.’
Shows like What Would You Do (a hidden camera show) showcase people just walking by as people are being openly beaten, publicly hazed, roofied and other vile behaviors.
In nearly every case they find that a majority of people don’t involve themselves.
Some citizens, as in the public hazing skit, even aid the people blatantly doing wrong.
A fifteen-year-old girl helped Saran wrap a sorority pledge to a pole and could not see the wrong in what she did.
Others took pictures but didn’t bother to intervene.All I can say is that we need to do better.
No one says that we need to go gallivanting off to Ybor and look for those in need to help them (although that would be nice).
Just don’t deny your instinct to help someone.
You could even start by helping someone out by opening a door or two if their hands are full.
Just take time to help those in need and we won’t have to worry about people being senselessly beaten and left without help.
It should be natural for us to want to help those who need it.
Take initiative and help your fellow man.
Who knows, next time the one who needs help might be you.
Nicole Robinson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.