This drawing comes from an art therapy session with child refugees.
US: “No we can’t say that”
EU: “It’s ok this is not my problem”
The concept of Somebody Else’s Problem (let’s call it SEP) runs right through society and all issues in the world. Peter Shirley in his book “The Life You Can Save” looks at this. He calls it the bystander effect.
Shirley cites some fascinating research that goes something like this:
Researchers got people into a waiting room where they met the facilitator. Then the facilitator goes into a side room where she climbs on a stool, then pretends to fall over (crash, bang, ouch). The subjects can only hear (the side room is concealed with a curtain).
Essentially — when the subject was by themselves they were very likely to go help the facilitator. When there were two subjects in the waiting room (the second is a stooge who just sits there doing nothing), then they were very unlikely to go help!
What happened there? SEP.
We are less likely to help out when others stand by and do nothing.
I can’t think how many times I do this. I justify may lack of action by telling myself “there are other people around – they will do something”, or “if everyone else is standing around then it must be okay”. I hate it when I do this.
However we all do this to some degree on an international scale – probably because we feel so powerless to being change.
The golden rule sets the standard high: “Do unto others…”