Tag Archives: Helping

The Bystander Effect

Yesterday in my philosophy class we talked about the bystander effect. We talked about how a group of people will stand and watch a child drown purely because there are other people there. People seem to have a mentality of “no one else is helping, why should I?” It’s why the genocide of the Jews in Germany was even possible.

It’s also why there are millions of starving children in the wold. We talked about how it seems that a person who is able to help should be morally obligated to from an egalitarian viewpoint. We talked about how people act based on social norms and an innate sense of self preservation and how this does not  seem to correlate with egalitarianism or a common sense of compassion.

It disturbed me a little in class, but we have talked about this kind of thing numerous times before in other classes mainly on a theoretical level. It sunk in however when I read an add in the school bulletin that gets sent out once a day via email. A girl was asking for help with a public speaking project she had coming up and I almost replied, but then I thought, “Well, she probably already has several other people offering to help her and I’m busy.” It is midterms. What if everyone else was “too busy” as well? I most likely have a few hours to spare some time this week. Am I morally obligated to help that girl?

Something else struck me today. I remembered that Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” Why? Is it because people aren’t helping? Is it because of economic or social structures, as some would argue? Do they bring poverty upon themselves? Is it forced upon them? What bothers me most is that word always. Is there nothing we can do to stop it? Is poverty an undying force that can’t be stopped?

A question that plenty of people deal with all the time is; why, if God is good does he allow suffering? I don’t have an answer to that. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It’s because we live in an imperfect world. What I really don’t get is why some people suffer WAY more than others. What’s more is that often times, the more people suffer, the stronger their faith is. In fact, many people bring suffering upon themselves to strengthen their spiritual life. The thing about our God is that he suffered for us, and he suffers with us. I know that, but I don’t entirely know what it means. God is with us and he is with us in our suffering, but what does it mean that he suffers too? I think if I could figure that out I would understand a lot of other things as well.

Last semester in my creative nonfiction writing class I read a short piece called “Being Christ to the Traveler.” In short it was about a guy who offers to hold a drunk guy’s flowers while he pees out the door of a train (the guy had evidently just broken up with his girlfriend). We can help anyone by doing little things like that, but it takes so much more to help the poor or the people dying of AIDS over in Africa.

The thing is, I basically don’t have anything saved. If it weren’t for my parents I’d be dead on the street somewhere, but as it stands I live in an awesome house in a nice, safe neighborhood, I go to a super nice college and took guitar lessons for five years. I personally am very poor. I have a part time job, but because of school and music I don’t work much and I make peanuts; actually less than peanuts.

All the money I’ve saved or that I make goes to recording my first album, and that’s where I’m conflicted. My plan/hope is to be able to live off of music and have a little extra to send to charities, etc. What we talked about in my philosophy class was this; is it more morally right to take the money one spends on college/recording/whatever and just give that to charity, or should one wait, go through college/recording/gigging/whatever and ultimately be able to do much more and help many more people? I don’t know.

I guess a good compromise is to help who you can when you can, how you can, but I don’t think it’s quite as satisfying as being able to say you got a kid out of poverty. I guess we’re not supposed to look for satisfaction out of helping people. Again, I’m probably thinking about this too much.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Make Use Of Your Magic

I’ve spent many hours over the past 2 or 3 days trying to figure out if there was some kind of volunteer work I could do from home or close by in town. I don’t drive so I didn’t want my work to end up being inconvenient to my parents or anyone else who would be willing to drive me. What made things even more complicated was that my disability makes it impossible to do many hands-on tasks that I would sincerely love to do. I still haven’t found anything that’s close enough or even doable.

In Luke 14 Jesus says to a man who invited him to a banquet that he should not invite rich neighbors or friends and family to his lavish dinner party. Instead he should invite the poor, the lame, etc. His rich friends can and probably will repay him, but the poor can’t pay him back. If he takes care of them though, it’s out of love and compassion and he will be “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I read this the other day and it really struck me. I want to help people because I should. Something I figured out while I was searching was that if you want to volunteer you have to pick a problem and a cause and focus on those and those alone. There are a lot of things that bother me, but a few of them are related. Needless hate and violence really bothers me. Apathy is likewise a big problem that is often overlooked. I remember hearing a story about a man who decided to commit suicide. He lived in a large city and his note said, “I’m going to the bridge. If one person smiles at me or even acknowledges me, I won’t jump.” The story did not have a happy ending.

I remember when we went down to Georgia for my graduation/18th birthday trip. We were spending a night in Charleston, South Carolina and we were wandering around trying to find a place to eat– obvious tourists. A young man noticed us and asked us if we needed any help in a very friendly voice. I don’t remember if we said yes or no, but I do remember that we were slightly in shock. We weren’t used to complete strangers being that nice to us.

Ironically, people often seem to care more about people oversees than own next door neighbors. There is poverty, hunger and homelessness right here in the U.S. I’m not saying our problems are more important than anyone else’s. However, I do think that solutions could start at home. I love the idea of paying it forward. If everyone made an individual effort to make one other person’s life better, that person might do the same for someone else. In a literal sense, I think we can spread love; if we try hard enough, we can spread it all over the globe.

Love and compassion can save lives. It trumps greed and selfishness and it brings people together instead of pushing them farther apart. I think the best thing is to do what you can.  If you can write, then write and inundate the internet with the shared message of love. If you can travel to foreign countries and build houses for people, do that because that seriously needs to be done. If you can sing, then belt it and make sure people hear that love will win.

I think sometimes people are guilted into inaction. If you’re not out on the front lines of a particular organization’s effort than you’re a terrible person. I definitely think that this kind of mentality is harmful. Every person has a different situation and a different skill set that can be useful for making this world a better place. The trick is to figure out how to put those skills to use. It’s an opportunity to be creative and challenge yourself while doing something wonderful.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Not An Option

I hung out with my cousin for a while today because he got out of school early. I came up to my room a couple hours ago after he left, intending to play video games, but I ended up doing some research on getting gigs and selling music online– since I’ll have to figure that out eventually anyway. I know; sign of the apocalypse; Katie was productive just because. I did pester a few venues already this week, so I’m just waiting to hear back from them. I only found one new open mic, but I just don’t think there are a whole lot around here. I figure what I’ll do is just ask people where else they play next time I do my usuals. I do have a few tentative open mic dates planned, so if they work out I’ll let you guys know. Check my music page soon.

I also pestered Ken’s friend because I hadn’t heard back from him. I’m becoming less shy as a result of this music thing. I’m having to learn to be more of a pest. I’m sick of not hearing back from people. I’ve decided that failure simply isn’t an option. I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do it right. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot I can do at the moment except wait. I’ll do a little more research into selling music online, but my cousin is working on building me a website, and I need to finish my album anyway. My next recording session will hopefully be either next Tuesday or Friday.

Last night I had a holy-crap-I-suck moment. We were picking up my brother and my dad from Boston University because my brother was going to a presentation about how to deal with their admissions office or something. We went to dinner and then my mom and I went to Barnes and Noble to get coffee and look at books. On the way back to the car we walked right past a homeless guy and every time I do that I feel guilty. I feel guilty a lot just because my life is easy. It really bothers me that children die of hunger and stupid jerks blow things up and kill people. My two goals this summer were/are to figure out how to succeed in music and save the world. I decided that I need to worry about music first because if I’m going to get anything done, it’s going to be through music.

If anyone has any pointers on where to go/what to do, comments would be awesome!

Thanks,

Katie

Being Helpful

Being helpful is one of the most rewarding things in the world. It doesn’t matter what you do to be helpful; big or small, when someone thanks you and tells you you’re helpful, it feels so good! I’m a little bit of a workaholic, but I can honestly say that most of the time I’d rather be helpful than productive, if I had to choose.

I read a post in October by a blogger who calls himself Marcel. It was his first post and he said that he wasn’t expecting anyone to read for a very long time. Well, I’m sometimes an overly friendly, sentimental nuisance, so I left him a comment to say “hi” and give a little advice. He thanked me and said he hoped I’d keep reading. So I’ve been reading and commenting on some of his posts, but I realized that sometimes trying to be helpful can be kind of annoying to people. I asked him if I was in fact being annoying, and he said that I wasn’t and that he appreciated me reading and commenting. Not only that, but he said my comments were helpful!

When that’s exactly what you’re hoping to hear and you’re easily excitable (I’m so easily excitable), it can kind of make your day.

Throughout high school, I wanted to “save the world.” I’m sure there are many 14 year old girls who think they can do that, but it’s ridiculous, nonetheless. Of course I’ve learned about all kinds of different organizations that seek to help people overseas and in third world countries, but I also think that saving the world can start at home. I like the idea of the movie “Pay It Forward.” If you’re nice/helpful to someone, they’ll be be nice/helpful to someone else. If you’re nice/helpful to a few people, it will grow exponentially.

Lately, since I’m almost halfway done with my sophomore year of college, I’ve been thinking about what I want or could be doing with my life.More importantly however, I’ve been trying to figure out where I “fit in” to God’s plan. I figure if I can understand that, it will help me to decide what I should do as a career. Because of things that have been going on lately, I’m starting to think that it has something to do with “doing big things in a small way.” I think of it sort of as a movie. There’s the actors on camera, and then there’s the “tech” crew behind the scenes helping with costumes, special effects, script, props and everything else that goes into a good movie.

This blog is actually an attempt at “doing big things in a small way.” I’m hoping that what I write is helpful to whomever reads it and that maybe it will make people think if not do something to make the world a better place. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but nobody said I couldn’t dream, and this is my internet bubble!