Sometimes I get this strange feeling that the same kind of questions pop up again and again. I’m always amazed when I read a piece of historical literature to find that many of the same things bothered people back then as bother people now. That’s life, I guess: there’s nothing new under the sun.
I have a crazy streak. I remember when I was studying Irish History, I read an account of some ruler (in Dublin, I think) who was asked to kneel before one of the English invaders. Instead, he spat in the Englishman’s eye. They cut off his head then and there. I read that and thought, “Unfortunately, I’ve got a bit of that tendency.”
The question which has reared its head again is: when does one get involved in a potentially dangerous situation? I have written on this previously, over a year ago now.
Unfortunately, I have occasion to consider the question again in a tragic context. A 43-year old Melbourne solicitor has been shot and killed after he saw a man attempting to pull a woman out of a taxi by her hair and moved to intervene. He was shot at point blank range. It seems he was an innocent bystander. I’m presuming he was on his way to work. What a brave guy. It’s awful to think that his bravery was repaid in that manner.
Both my sister and my brother-in-law work down that end of the city, so I was very relieved to get e-mails from them first thing this morning assuring me that they were both okay.
It’s a hard question. Would I intervene (or say something) if I saw a woman being pulled out of a cab by her hair? I think I would at least say something. I’d think I was safe on a reasonably busy city street at 8:30 in the morning. I certainly wouldn’t expect the guy to have a gun and to shoot me with it.
My husband was saying this incident makes him think twice about intervening in a violent situation. He says that before he had a wife and daughter, he wouldn’t have thought twice and would have helped, but now he would try to think before he acted, and weigh up the likelihood of his being able to make a difference to the situation.
But who is to know what the “right thing” is in that split second? It’s an impossible question. I think you can only know how you will behave once you’re in the situation.