Once, as a boy, I saw what happened; I saw them beat him down to the cold, cold ground; Watched those big boys beat that man down; I was too weak to make a stand

~Dave Matthews Band #27 listen to it here.

So besides guns I LOVE Dave Matthews Band, I love the stories they tell through their music.

That verse of #27 always sits with me.  I’d like to think that in that situation I’d at least try to stop an attack in whatever way I could.  I’m not talking guns blazing I’m saying to make a phone call, tell the assailants that I’ve called the police, something, anything rather than to just sit there and do nothing.  But I have to wonder if there would be any situations that would happen where I’d be too weak to make a stand? Man I hope not.

We are very fortunate to live in an area rich in culture and there is an outdoor concert venue nearby so I’ve been able to go to more concerts than most people.  I typically go to concerts with my sister-in-law.  Why not hubby, you ask?  Have you ever seen the Direct TV Commercial where it says, when people think you’re tough they want to know how tough?  I swear that is the case with my husband.  He is 6’ 3” 260lbs and EVERY single time he’s gone to a concert with me someone starts with him.

My husband was diagnosed in 2009 with Chiari Malformation, Type 1 and had a surgery that left him with a soft spot on the back of his head where they had to take out a piece of his skull.  He can no longer go on roller coasters or do anything at all that will jar his head which obviously includes fighting.  If he hits his head just right the harsh reality is that he could die.  So instead of taking the risk of going to a concert and possibly getting in a fight because other guys want to test out how tough he is he just makes the choice to stay home.

I’m sorry, I digress, one of his sister’s and my favorite things to do at concerts is to people watch.  What always amazes us is the number of girls who get too drunk to know what they were doing.  Some even to the point of passing out.  We could never believe that the girls would let themselves get that drunk and furthermore that their friends would leave them outside of the gates for the wolves while they went in to enjoy their concert.  I can remember more than one occasion where we’ve gone over to “rescue” a girl from boys who want to take advantage of her state while other people were willing to just keep walking by.  I don’t think that I could ever forgive myself if I saw her face on the news the next day if something bad happened to her and we chose to do nothing.

So I can’t help but wonder, would everyone else be strong enough to make a stand if they saw something bad happening to me?

I’d like to think so but I’m not so sure about that.  I started wondering about it when I read the story of Kitty Genovese where 38 people, yes 38, did nothing to help save her when she was being attacked. Because no one came to her aid she didn’t survive her attack.  Some people may say well that was in the 60s that would never happen now however it happened in April in Baltimore where a tourist was beaten and robbed while bystanders did nothing.  How do we know they did nothing?  It was caught on tape.

Or how about the case of the homeless man  who helped a woman being attacked only to be stabbed himself and 25 people walked past without offering help.  Do you think they didn’t stop because the man was homeless?  Or perhaps that the people in NYC are so hardened that they just didn’t even think to check on him?  Were they too busy to get wherever they were going?  What if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t they want someone, anyone to stop or even make a call for help?

I think part of the challenge that I’ve run into in changing my own mindset is that I want to follow what my mother and grandparents always taught me.  Always be polite, nice, and respectful and mind my own business.  Or as my grandmother would say, “Keep your eyes on your own plate, honey”.

I think that the problem might be that many people have taken this advice of “minding our own business” a little too much to heart.   Since we’ve been told so frequently to not get involved it has in turn prevented many people from “making a stand” when they see something bad happening, because they didn’t want to offend anyone, be seen as a snitch, get into any trouble themselves, or are afraid that someone will turn the violence towards them.  So that is what many people do, avoid the conflict because if it involves someone else it isn’t their business.

So I can’t help but wonder if we put too much faith in believing that other people will save us.  The incidents above happened in very public places yet no one helped.  So what happens if we’re out in public or even worse in our own homes?  Who will hear us?  Will anyone come to our aid then?

I have a friend who lives by herself in a townhouse.  The good news is that she has a neighbor on each side but I have to wonder if it gives her a false sense of security.  I worry about her and don’t want her to count on her neighbors to save her if something God forbid was to happen.  It begs the question, who is responsible for her safety?

For all that matters, who then is responsible for my safety? The answer is clearly ME.  I cannot rely on anyone but MYSELF for my own protection.  And there we have it. Coming to this realization is exactly why I’m making the changes in my life that I am.

So in the words of Dave:

I will live as I see fit, and there will be those who do not like it…

 Here’s to being strong enough to make a stand for what is most important, ME.