I was about six months pregnant with my second child and I was with my husband and daughter in Chicago for a wedding. It was the month of August which means hot with a chance of drenching rain in the afternoon. We had just gotten off a commuter train and were trying to navigate with a stroller through the on coming push of people going towards the next train. At the base of the stairs that led up to the city a young woman was carrying an open box of stuff and dropped it everywhere. The crowd parted and pushed past her as if she wasn't there but an invisible object was diverting them somehow. My husband and I were the only ones to stop and help her. Why is that?
Why are strangers so shy about lending a helpful hand when one is clearly needed? When did we as a collective decide that we would be too inconvenienced to help?
When I was a little girl I remember my parents or other adults helping complete strangers out because it was the thing to do. They also accepted help better then we do today.
If someone offers to help you with something. How do you react? Do you say thank you and continue on with their assistance? Or do you say no thank you and struggle on while the other person walks away? Does it mean you are a weaker person by accepting someone else's helping hand? In which decade did we as a society start equating weakness with accepting help?
For me, I would say it was the 80's. All those big shots on Wall Street and in big corporations who shot to the top stabbing their coworkers figuratively in the back just to get there. When women fought tooth and nail to sit in those board rooms with their power suits trying to prove that they were tougher then any of the men in there. That atmosphere created the indifference attitude of the 90's when it was cool and in vogue to be snappy and rude. When people made fun of others in need.
Here we are in 2014 and people drop their eyes and walk as fast as they can away from someone who needs help. Or we stand there watching another person struggling with something acting rather impatient until they finish whatever it is.
What is that old saying about the more hands makes lighter work?
I admit it. I am guilty of not asking for help too. I have been practicing though over the last 10 years to ask for help. And it really does take practice. It feels good to help others out. You should try it sometime. Oh, and it isn't a sign of weakness either.
Once we get back into the art of helping each other out with smaller tasks, we can then move on to acting as a bigger group to help out more people. One person at a time. Whether it is holding a door open for a mother trying to scoot her children through . Or asking someone to help you carry something that is just a little too heavy for one person. Can you do that? I can.
* I wrote this for my friend Esther's Spirit of The Poor, click here for more blogs*