There are many reasons for helping people. Cause it makes me feel good? Cause I want to make things better in this world? Cause my religion says I should?
Image taken from: http://www.functionally-insane.com/luke-14/
It's easy to give help in situations where your help will be reciprocated. Help your friend; your friend will help you back. Help old people carry things if they are struggling with it. Help people open door. Donate to charities. Any number of little helpful things we can do everyday that won't be a major inconvenience to ourselves and which most people do anyway.
But soon you enter a more grey area, where helping others does come at a rather major cost to yourself. Either a social cost or a economic cost or whatever.
I think when this video started circulating on Facebook, lots of my friends were like "(: for the last guy" kinda thing. And perhaps we'd like to think the same of ourselves, that we would do something like that.
But will we? From the comforts of our room and just looking through a screen, it's easy to think the best of ourselves.
We'd like to think that we would all help the homeless. Yet many times, people just walk past them on the streets as though they don't exist. And lots of my friends, I know, while they don't pretend these people don't exist, they wouldn't donate either?
Perhaps if you grew up in a place where there are many homeless, you could get desensitised to the sight. In Singapore though, you rarely if ever, see people sleep out in the open, on the streets. So coming to the UK, where it is not a rare sight, and especially in US when I was there in Dec, where it was quite a common sight, was quite unnerving.
My first reaction would be to help. Donate some money, perhaps? But then you think about more, and you start wondering perhaps this guy is an alcoholic, and he'll just use the cash to buy more alcohol. And so you just don't bother and start to ignore these people, and pretend they don't exist.
But should I really be offering my room/house to the homeless?
Image taken from: http://dvsoul.org.uk/soul_food/
(And I'd say this was different from a situation in a developing country, where whipping out your coin purse to give someone a donation results in hoards of people following you like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.)
Then this video came along, being shared virally on Facebook as well.
And again, first instinct as an armchair critic is: What! How can people just walk away from a murder and not offer help!?!?
Yet honestly, I asked myself, what would I do if I saw that? Scream, definitely. Try to get the murderer away from the victim or vice versa? I'm not too sure. I could die in the process (esp if it's something more lethal than a cord).
Anyway, the chances of me coming across a murder in action is very much less than the chances of me coming across a homeless person.
I was walking down Hills Road with my friend, looking for a breakfast place. I noticed a guy sitting outside the cafe, clearly sleeping rough. What would you do?
I went up to him, and asked him if he was hungry, and if he'd like a sandwich. He said yes, so I got him a baguette and a cup of coffee, gave it to him, and left.
Presumably, helping people should make you happy. Yet I didn't feel good after that incident at all. I was just left wondering why is it that people have to sleep rough? I wondered if the guy was genuinely in need of help and hungry? And then I wondered some more: so what if that guy was perhaps, a crook. And I helped him. Would that be wrong? I guess not; after all a good deed is always a good deed right?
And people may think that it's really nice of me to do that. But I think, I could have done so much more. Perhaps I could have invited him into the cafe to warm up. Perhaps I could bring him to some shelter somewhere? Perhaps...
There are so many things we can do, it's just a matter of to which extent do we want to extend our help.
Anyway, I guess my point was more of: what would you do, if you saw an injustice?
NB: If this seemed a little incoherent, pardon me. I've only had 2 20min naps since waking up at 8.30am on Thursday, and it's now 1.00am on Saturday. Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Forum is my excuse.