Monday, March 17, 2014

What Would You Have Done?

Of all the clips I’ve seen about the apartment buildings that exploded 6 avenues east of where I live last week, this one has stayed with me the firmest.

Someone I later mentioned this footage to said, “Well, of course. How could a person passing by not have reacted like that?” Which is fantastically naive. Put in the same proximate position, many (if not most) laypeople wouldn’t have had the impulse to help. They would have ran, not walked, in the opposite direction, away from the smoke, flames, and ruins.

If I had walked past the explosion, I think I would have responded at least somewhat charitably. But here’s something I learned long ago, something useful: hypotheticals mean nothing. You never know how you’ll react in any situation until you actually find yourself in it.

An hour earlier, the faceless and selfless voice in the video could have had a staunch reputation as a self-involved asshole.

The next time this happens, the person who’s reading this, saying “I was a lifeguard in high school and just returned from a mission trip in Honduras. I’d throw down my knapsack and get to work, rescuing trapped passengers from their cars,” could be the first bystander pushing everyone aside to more quickly head out of harm’s way and let the professionals take care of it.  

1 comment:

  1. This is a painful topic. I think you are right on target saying that we just don't know how we would react in such situations. My eldest nephew is in the U.S. Army and he has a LOT of training in all sorts of situations. Yet, after seeing the movie "Private Ryan" in which soldiers had to swarm the beach at Normandy during World War II--facing extraordinary fire from the enemy, which was encamped on top of tall hills, firing down at the Allied soldiers--my nephew said, "Could I do THAT?" This was from someone who had already done one tour in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. We just don't know.