12 October, 2011

Too Busy for Compassion??

I took a fall on Sunday at the mall and this is what happened:
The muscles in my right hand wrenched and twisted as I hit the pavement.  A series of trips straight out of a slap-stick comedy resulted in a fall that I don't really remember but I can't really forget.  A gorgeous day, a long walk, and then a trip.  In typical me fashion, I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and laid down in the nearest safe spot - the middle of the median/walk way.
"Are you okay" the worried voice sounded time and time again.  I assured her that I was fine.  "You don't look fine" she repeatedly stated.
I am sure that I didn't look "fine" at all... and i was fine.  My hand, though completely wrenched and bent in ways hard to imagine, was not broken.  But to look at my color and the fact that I couldn't stand up due to my bodies solution to any similar experience... shut down and cold sweat and threaten to faint.  "Fine" was not the way it all seemed at the time.
Cars drove by.
People walked by.
I lay; eyes closed; waiting for the blood to return to my body so I could function; and my daughter sat worrying.
"Why isn't anyone stopping?"
"I can't believe no one is stopping!"
"The security guard didn't even stop!"
While she sat concerned for me and stunned that no one was checking to see if I was okay, I realized that I wasn't surprised at al.  And that, the knowledge that I didn't expect anyone to offer to help, sticks with me and will likely stay with me long after the muscles have returned to normal in my hand.
What does it take for people to offer to help another today?  Have we become so removed from the world or isolated in our own worlds that the sight of a grown woman seemingly passed out on the median in front of a well traveled store with a child sitting doesn't give us pause?
I remember stories about New York city neighborhoods when I was younger where people would close their ears and their eyes and look the other way rather than step forward and risk themselves and help.
I have always had such a difficult time believing these stories.
How can people not reach out to one another to help?
Being disabled, I often receive more offers to help than are necessary.  I have become increasingly comfortable with this, simply saying yes or thank you or no and thank you.  Similarly, I have become quite comfortable asking for help - most of the time.
I have even experienced a person not helping out - not because he couldn't or didn't have the time or the means, but because of my being me.  That situation cut to the quick; negating me in front of my daughter was a numbing experience.  However my concern was also for the suffering that such a choice meant.  What happens to a soul when we choose to deny  or not to respect or to recognize the humanity of another?
When we negate our connectedness to that person?
My daughter witnessed someone treating me like that a few years ago; she won't forget it but I am not sure she fully understood it.
This latest situation, with my being hurt and no one stopping... that she will remember and that she did understand.
How do we teach our children to have compassion and to take risks and to step outside themselves to offer help to others when we don't do these things ourselves?My hand is now safely wrapped in an Ace bandage.
It feels wonderful with the support the bandage provides.  My hand will heal before I know it; but, what will happen to my daughter's believe in humanity?  Despite what she has seen throughout her life, she has remained a compassion person.  Will this be true should she continue to experience similar going forward?


LesleyG said...

I cannot believe no one stopped. I've never experienced anything like that and even reading your words, I find myself saying well surely that was just a bad coincidence of your being in the presence of many bad people at that moment and any other place at any other time it wouldn't have been the same. I sincerely hope that I am right, because I cannot imagine that. And I hope somehow something happens to show your daughter that was the exception to the norm. I'm so sorry that happened.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE - I knew I wanted to read this properly and have time to reply .. and take it all in ... hence my lateness getting here.

I'm pleased you are alright now - though your daughter's experiences sound as though she will have learnt a great deal about humans ... and I'm sure she will always be there for others ...

A terrible experience for you both .. and she poor soul - what would have happened if you'd been knocked out? I hope you've got that one worked out ...

Thankfully we're not all brought up that way .. or react that way when we can make our own choices ..

I am sure your daughter will be similar to her mother - you've imbued her with your character traits and teachings about life .. you can both chat and elaborate together .. an unusual aspect in this day and age.

With many thoughts and I do hope the wrist etc heal .. big hugs - Hilary