This is how evil prevails: when good men and women do nothing.
By doing nothing, by remaining silent, by being bystanders to injustice, hate and wrongdoing, good people become as guilty as the perpetrator.
We need to stop being silent bystanders.
So what is the antidote to group think and the bystander effect?
Be an individual. Listen to your inner voice. Take responsibility. Recognize injustice. Don't turn away from suffering. Refuse to remain silent. Take a stand. Speak up. Speak out.
This is what psychologist Philip Zimbardo refers to as "the power of one."
All it takes is one person breaking away from the fold to change the dynamics of a situation. "Once any one helps, then in seconds others will join in because a new social norm emerges," notes Zimbardo. "Do Something Helpful."
The Good Samaritans of this world don't always get recognized, but they're doing their part to push back against the darkness.
For instance, a few years ago in Florida, a family of six--four adults and two young boys--were swept out to sea by a powerful rip current in Panama City Beach. There was no lifeguard on duty. The police were standing by, waiting for a rescue boat. And the few people who had tried to help ended up stranded, as well.
Those on shore grouped together and formed a human chain. What started with five volunteers grew to 15, then 80 people, some of whom couldn't swim.
One by one, they linked hands and stretched as far as their chain would go. The strongest of the volunteers swam out beyond the chain and began passing the stranded victims of the rip current down the chain.
One by one, they rescued those in trouble and pulled each other in.
There's a moral here for what needs to happen in this country if we only can band together and prevail against the riptides that threaten to overwhelm us.
So here's what I suggest.
Instead of just giving thanks this holiday season with words that are too soon forgotten, why not put your gratitude into action with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone's burden, and brighten some dark corner?
Pay your blessings forward in whatever way makes sense to you.
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