Today as I was on my way to Evolvefest, a 4 day music/arts/yoga gathering in Phillipsburg, NJ, which was a perfectly tempting place for this gracefully aging hippie to hang out on a sunny summer day, I had the opportunity to test my values. My friend Ondreah and I were chatting away as I steered my Jeep into a gas station once we crossed the bridge that brought us from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Anyone who lives in the Keystone State knows that the Garden State boasts gas prices that can be as much as 20 cents a gallon cheaper. As the attendant was pumping the gas (there are no self serve gas stations there; thus the bumper sticker that reads “Jersey girls don’t pump their own gas.”), I noticed a barechested man wearing shorts, stumbling in the street and then collapsing. I immediately dialed 911 and described the scenario. I was transferred to a local dispatcher and once again detailed what I was witnessing playing out before my eyes. By this point, the man had rounded the corner facing the bridge and literally stepped in front of a car that was stopped and draped himself across the hood and then slid back down to the street. Carrying the phone, I walked toward him and at the request of the police officer, I handed my phone to the bridge guard and I leaned down to speak with the man who identified himself and declared that he was drunk. I could hear a siren in the distance, heralding the arrival of help. I then walked back to the car and we were on our way.
A short while after we arrived at the gathering, I ran into someone I knew and I described what had transpired. His response surprised me when he replied that it would have been ok either way; whether or not I chose to help. I was incredulous. I was taught by my parents that if someone was in need and you could help, it was your role to do so. I remember many years ago, again at a gas station (I see a pattern developing here)in a rather dangerous neighborhood in Philadelphia, I witnessed someone being robbed. Back then, there weren’t cell phones, so I found a pay phone and called the police from there.
I believe that we are not responsible FOR each other, but rather, TO each other. We live on this island Earth together. How is it possible for someone to walk away if they are able to lend a hand? If I couldn’t intervene directly, I would alway seek someone who could.
Remember Kitty Genovese? According to an article in the New York Times written by Martin Gansberg March 27, 1964
“For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.
Twice their chatter and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out, and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.
The above reported events are true and took place on March 14, 1964.
The brutal murder of Kitty Genovese and the disturbing lack of action by her neighbors became emblematic in what many perceived as an evolving culture of violence and apathy in the United States. In fact, social scientists still debate the causes of what is now known as “the Genovese Syndrome.”
When witnesses were questioned about why they didn’t call the police, the answers ranged from thinking it was a lovers’ quarrel, to fear for their own safety, to simply not wanting to get involved.
The truth is, I’m no hero and there were other people who eventually gathered around Franklin and picked him up and got him to safety on the grass while awaiting the police or ambulance. I was glad to see that as well. We are all in this together and my choice will always be to exercise my social responsibility.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P6r1fgiUcU What Must Be Done-Brother Sun
About Edie Weinstein:
Rev. Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a Renaissance Woman and Bliss Mistress who delights in inviting people to live rich, full, juicy lives. Edie is an internationally recognized, sought after, colorfully creative journalist, interviewer and author, a dynamic and inspiring speaker, licensed social worker, interfaith minister, offering uniquely designed spiritual rituals. In addition, she is a PR Goddess, promoting events and transformational teachers, healers, writers and artists. She speaks on the subjects of wellness, spirituality, sexuality, creativity, time management, recovery, body image, mindfulness, self esteem, stress management, re-creating yourself, caring for the caregiver, loss and grief. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV. Edie is currently writing her first best selling book entitled The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into The Extraordinary and is offering a workshop for women who want to re-create their lives, based on those concepts. A 20 year old journalistic vision came to pass in July of 2008 when she interviewed His Holiness The Dalai Lama. It was a potent reminder to never, ever, ever give up on our dreams. Over the years, Edie has written for mainstream and transformational publications. She has interviewed hundred of notables in the transformational fields, including Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Ford, Leonard Peltier, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Beckwith, Jonathan Goldman, Gregg Braden, Neale Donald Walsch, Mary Manin Morrissey, Dan Millman, Alan Cohen, Ram Dass, Jack Canfield, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Patch Adams, Ben and Jerry, Donna DeLory, James Twyman, Elizabeth Lesser, Michael Franti and Jean Houston. Her website is http://www.liveinjoy.org