Thursday, March 23, 2006

What would you do?

Recently I did a blog on the subject of the Bible verse Matthew 25:40, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." I found some good examples of challenging ways to apply that verse tonight.
Tonight on Prime Time, they did some experiments with human behavior. First they had actors portray 4 boys bullying another in a park to check out the reactions of passers-by. Then they had the actors dress in gang-type clothing and try it out again. First of all, they found that very few people would intervene; they also found that those who did tended to be women. They also found something that surprised them, that when someone intervened when the kids were in gang clothes, they gathered a lot more support from others than when the kids were dressed like any others.
Again they tried an experiment, of two couples having separate fights in separate places, also to check the reactions of passers-by; the husband actors were verbally abusing their wives. One couple was black, one was white. Those few who intervened in defense of the wives reacted differently for the black couple than for the white. In talking to the black man, they'd tell him just to take it somewhere else--even a black woman told him that; the white people didn't receive that response. In talking to the white man, they got in between the man and the woman, whereas with the black couple they didn't. After a lot of filming and finding rather unsatisfactory results, finally with the black couple a white woman did come and stand by the black woman and spoke directly to the man, taking off her sunglasses and telling him she wasn't leaving until he did, and finally escorting the woman away from him. Sometimes people used cell phones to call 911, which I thought was a safe-yet-helpful way to go.
The third experiment was with actors driving taxi cabs, starting out each passenger's ride with a number of racist comments and seeing how much the passengers would agree and how much they would speak up in disagreement against the cab driver. In all their two days, there was very little vocal opposition and no one asked to be let out of the cab. In fact, in one of the most ironic scenarios, a woman who'd spoken out in agreement with the driver turned out to be on the "diversity" committee in her workplace.
The show was called, "What Would You Do?" And the question is valid. How much will we venture to speak for what is right? Can we apply Matthew 25:40 to those situations? I think it's a good idea to rehearse the idea of speaking out--of coming to the defense of the helpless--of not falling into sin and hatred because someone else would lead us there, of not showing love to those for whom Jesus came to earth and died.
Another related reminder I had earlier today was while taking a CPR class from Tim Frye during what would normally be our usual WOW (Women of the Word) Bible study time. We noted the possibility of giving mouth-to-mouth to a stranger, maybe to a person exhibiting some possibility of infectious lifestyles...how much would we do if they needed our help, our taking a risk to save their lives? Will we passively let them go to hell, without doing all we can to give them the chance to respond to the gospel? What things can we do that would increase our likelihood of responding well on their behalf? I have a keyring-attached little gadget for putting over the mouth of such a person, and I asked whether they're realistic to use. I was glad to hear him say they are, though they're somewhat cumbersome. However, if it makes me less likely to hesitate, it's worth pulling out to use. For that matter, Tim said that transmission of HIV isn't often traced to CPR. That's good to know too.
I think if I saw someone needing CPR and didn't do what I could in that situation, I'd be haunted by that Bible verse; I'd be haunted by what I would wish I'd done, and the idea regarding CPR that someone I might have saved from death might have gone to hell. I think the question, "What would you do?" is a good one for everyone to ask themselves, before such a challenging situation presents itself.

1 comment:

J.OTIS MERSTER said...

That IS a very insightful and thought-provoking question. Just last night, my friend and I saw a couple of young men fighting on the street as we were driving home from a wedding. The street was well lit and densely populated, so I'm sure they were just playing. I've wondered before what I would do in a not-playful scenario like that. Probably yell from the safety of my car or from some distance, loud enough to attract attention and let someone else deal with it. Anyone who'd fight violently in L.A. probably has a gun, and doesn't wouldn't hesitate to use it, even on a woman or a child.