Don’t become a bystander

A responsible citizen has many roles to play. One of the roles is to voice concern or act responsibly on an event or incident. His/her role should not be limited to a mute spectator or play victim of circumstances. The citizen needs to rise, react and respond. History is replete with incidents where a lone citizen first voiced a concern and slowly the voice became vociferous. Such vociferous voice was soon joined by the chorus and the combined voices became a movement.

To start this piece of the blog on such a serious note is just a preamble to what I see every day within the confine of my society and at large when I hit the road.

Let us begin with an example. The other day, I saw a taxi having 4 passengers drove dangerously. The driver had no respect for the traffic signal nor did he have any concern for the accompanying traffic. It grazed past my vehicle from the wrong side with a little but noticeable scratch. My concern is not the rash driving habit of the driver. I am concerned about the 4 passengers’ safety. It is my experience (and many would vouch for that) that passengers in a vehicle are least bothered as to how the vehicle is driven. Their only concern is to reach the destination in the shortest possible time. They are least bothered about their own safety. The 4 passengers were totally oblivious to the consequences of the dangerous driving. They did not care to jump the red light by the driver. They did not care that the driver was overtaking vehicles from the wrong side. They did not care that the driver was ignorant about pedestrian traffic. They did not care to admonish or alert the driver about the careless driving which was putting their safety in jeopardy. This is a daily scene in any vehicle you see on the road, especially the commercial vehicles. The passengers remained just bystanders even when their own lives were in danger.

I have also observed the parking habits of various people. They would park their vehicles as if either they own the parking space or there would be no other vehicle. We observe this unbecoming behaviour regularly. But I have not observed anyone objecting to such a behaviour except for the parking attendant in paid parking lots. That too obviously for business reasons. The bystander syndrome affects all of us here too.

The malady has serious consequences. We have seen accidents on roads where people coolly leave the scene (after duly performing the role of a bystander). Seldom anyone offers help. These days some bystanders film the incident in their smartphones just to circulate the same in social media. It does not help in mitigating the suffering. A bystander is of no help. He is rather a hindrance.

Among the many stories emanating from the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, at this point, I remember the story of the ‘Yaksha’ who asked five questions to ‘Yudhishtira’. One of the questions was what the greatest riddle in the earth was. ‘Yudhishtira’ replied that every day people die. We all are witness to this phenomena in our daily lives. Yet, I, as a bystander, believe that I am alive without realising that I would also attain the same fate, for sure. This is the greatest riddle. A bystander neglect incidents on the same reasoning.

The bystander syndrome is all pervasive. We are ‘bystanders’ to the filth, dirt and stench around us. Someone throws garbage on road. We are mute spectators. Someone spits in the open. We are bystanders. Someone defecate openly. We are bystanders. Someone damages public property. We are bystanders. Someone defaces walls. We are bystanders. Someone humiliates. We are bystanders. Someone does not do his/her job. We remain bystanders and don’t protest. Someone show cruelty towards animals. We are bystanders. Someone is taking undue advantage of his/her position. We are bystanders. The list is infinite.

So what one should do? At least, make a beginning with yourself. Even on one occasion if you are voicing your concern, you are not among the ‘bystanders’.

The list is infinite.


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