Had a discussion with Alan last night. Among other things, we talked about what we would do in a situation like, say, a mass shooting. Of course, until we are there, we can’t really know what we would do, but we determined that if we could, we’d run TOWARDS the shooting, rather than away. Not necessarily with the goal of stopping the shooter; neither Alan nor I am the type to carry weapons. Of course, we would stop him if we could, but the goal is to save lives.
The first question I hear is “Why? That’s a good way to get yourself killed!” Well, yes. We know that. But someone has to. Might as well be us. The next question is “Why? Why put your life on the line for a stranger? Someone who might not do the same for you if the situation was reversed?” The answer to that question is easy. Because we can.
We know that running towards something like an active shooter event is a good way to get ourselves shot and killed, and we don’t want to die. Alan and I aren’t particularly suicidal. What we are is extremely pro-social. We believe that society only works because individuals give of themselves to make it work.
“Okay, well that’s great, but why YOU? You’re not trained, why sacrifice yourself for someone else?” Because if we don’t, who will? The thing about being pro-social is that it only works if everyone does it every time, like voting. You can’t sit back and let someone else get it, because what if everyone does that? Then no one gets it and people die. So I choose to run toward the screams because I can. And because if I don’t, who will?
This is an extreme example and one that will hopefully never come up, but there are plenty of smaller examples every day. Pro-social behavior, helping others, is something that you can do multiple times a day. It can be as big as running toward the screams, or as small as how you treat the service staff that helps you at a retail establishment.
Think about how your actions affect others, and choose the path that does the least harm and provides the most help. Not just for you, not just for those people who are like you, or helpful to you, but for everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, political affiliation, or anything else. We are all connected, even with those across the aisle and those who worship a different god. And our society is made up of all people, not just the people we like. We are all unique, but not singular. Everything we do affects everyone else. And we have to help each other.
If something is no one’s responsibility, it is everyone’s responsibility. Because if no one does it, everyone has to do it. Because if you don’t who will?