The Bystander Effect

Proverbs 31:8 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Does the name Kitty Genovese ring any bells? In 1964 she was brutally beaten, raped, stabbed 14 times, left for dead, then when the killer saw she was still alive, came back and finished the job. 38 people watched. Only one even called the police, after it was over, because they did not want to get involved.
When asking the man who committed this hyenas crime why he did this WHERE he did this, he replied: because he knew no one would do anything.
Because of this case a new term was created: the bystander effect.

This story was forwarded to me from a friend who attends a small church gathering in Grand Rapids, MI every Wednesday. I was challenged to take a deeper look into how willing I am to get involved and what I am willing to sacrifice for those that are alone and being victimized.

I do see individuals scrutinized for being different. I wish I could say that I have the courage to stand beside them and help them combat the negative looks and words by placing a friendly arm around their shoulder, reassuring them that they are not alone. Too often I stand with that crowd of 38 not wanting to get involved: I might get hurt, what will other people think, what if I’m then associated with “those” people, would I really do any good, “I’m just one person”, wow…I just realized I could go on and on and that alone scares me.

The bottom line is, if one person had gotten involved, that lovely 28 yr old young woman might be playing with her great grandchildren right now. She might be showing the scars but sharing her story of perseverance and faith. She might have pulled out the picture of her hero who came to her rescue and explain that it was due to their sacrifice that she is even here. She is blessed to be able to look into the eyes of the legacy that person had created.

But no one stepped in. There are no stories of overcoming for Kitty. There are no excited bright eyes listening.

What will be my legacy, I wonder. Will I step into someone’s life so stories of bravery, faith, hope, love, and compassion can be shared with little souls with bright futures?

My verse of the day popped up while writing this. I think I’m supposed to end with it.

“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭

Until next time: Blessings!


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