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When did helping become a burden?

April 2nd, 2009

Remember when we were younger and our parents told us to treat others the way we would want to be treated, to respect your elders and help those in need? They wanted to mold us into well-rounded human beings who would contribute to society.

Well, that’s how I was raised at least. I was scolded for being disrespectful, put in time-out for attempting to sell my brother at a garage sale, and grounded when I got into a fistfight in the fifth grade.

Sure, I thought my parents were the worst people ever and that they were doing this just because they didn’t love me.

But now I’m thankful for the way I was raised. I am appreciative of the fact that my parents took the time to teach me right from wrong and instilled in me the values of unselfishness and generosity.

Last Wednesday, I witnessed an act that made me doubt society. While working an event at Shaker Square movie theater, an older gentleman and his wife were walking up to their seats, and the man’s knee buckled, sending him toppling onto the seats.

Unable to gather enough strength to push himself up, the man laid on the seat waiting for help. I was the first to arrive at his side, attempting to help him get back on his feet.

Besides myself and one other gentleman, no one else came to help this feeble man.
After recovering, the man turned to me and said, “Thank you, I really appreciate your help.”

Now I’m not trying make myself seem like the ultimate good samaritan, but since when did helping someone in need become a burden? I looked around the theater, packed with able-bodies, and could do nothing but shake my head in disgust.

A person, close in proximity to the fall, saw the helpless man and continued to text on his phone.

Others just kept going on with their conversations, eating their popcorn and talking about the latest celebrity gossip.

Just imagine a world where people actually helped strangers in need. Has that become taboo? Was I expecting too much from a society built on the foundation of altruism and unselfishness?

I feel ashamed, disgusted and disappointed to be part of a society unwilling to step out of their normal routine to lend a helping hand.

After last Wednesday, I’d say that this society has developed a hubristic flaw. Too proud of their impeccable image to take a step out of their mentally-constructed social bubble and help others.

If you, or anyone else you know, has had the opportunity to help a stranger in need and passed because “that’s not what you do,” then I suggest you seriously rethink your social imperatives, because obviously helping others isn’t one of them.

So next time you come across someone in need, regardless of how trivial the situation may seem, take the time to lend a hand.

You never know when you may be that man in the theater needing help.