Saturday, April 21, 2007

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

So sometimes when you're up at 2am in the morning on the account of your noisy, drunk neighbours, it can be difficult to feel the love. How do you lovingly tell them to please shut up and respect those living around them because everyone else is trying to sleep? It isn't the first time I've heard them screaming in the middle of the night. But it hasn't really affected my sleep or livelihood. Where is that fine line of action and inaction? It's not bothering me too much so therefore I will refrain from action. But what about other people? Should I act on behalf of my other neighbors who undoubtedly can hear the noise as well?

I am reminded of the story of Catherine "Kitty" Genovese who was brutally stabbed to death outside her New York apartment at 3:20am on March 13, 1964. Many people heard her screams but did nothing to help her. The murderer actually came back to sexually assault her and rob her before finally leaving her to die. It wasn't until 3:50am that someone called the police and her body was found. Different sources say that between 12 and 38 people heard her cries and did nothing - either driven by apathy or the assumption that someone else would do something.

The psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect was derived from this example. It states that people are less likely to intervene in an emergency situation if others are around than if they are alone. Often it's an assumed diffusion of responsibility, the hope that someone more qualified to assist is there, or maybe just a feeling of inadequacy to do anything significant in the situation. Bottom line: it's easy to default to apathy.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Time to stop being a bystander. I'll start by knocking on their door and politely asking them to be quieter. Gotta start losing the apathy.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."
- James 1:22-25 (NIV)



Anonymous Chrissy said...

Just this morning, at exactly 5:28am, Meera took our broom and banged our roof with it. Did the people upstairs stop fighting? Yes, after three hits.
Three tends to be the number that shuts them up.
Grr... I'm still annoyed!

12:50 PM  
Blogger senoritabai said...

Hey, 5:28's not bad. 3:04 am is when they usually do it. I'm a pretty sound sleeper, but when your bed shakes b/c the people upstairs are jumping and throwing tables at each other, not to mention the screaming, you can't help but wake up. I still haven't worked enough courage to go up and tell them to please keep it down - little Asian girls are scary.

7:13 PM  

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