The Blind Eye – an empty look on humanity

By on January 23, 2012 in Columns

As I was on my way home, by 6 pm, after a long stressful day at school, I was – as usual – using the public metro system. The doors of the train opened at St: Eriksplan, a man wearing a simple jacket and a dirty pair of trousers got on. In his hand was a grocery bag filled with what seemed to be the most basic food supply a household can get. All in all, the man seemed like the average hard working citizen who assumingly cares for his family and completes the family’s most necessary needs from the modest salary he gets. I was sitting in one of the four-seats behind his seat, but facing him. As the train stopped by Rådmansgatan I saw the man get up and approach the doors, ready to continue his journey elsewhere. But as he got up, a little bag with bread fell out of the grocery bag. In a split second the man was out of the train, not realizing his bread had been left behind. The doors of the train were still open and many had by now seen the bread on the floor and would recognize the man if they were to look for him in the station. Everyone’s reaction was: silence, awkwardness, stiffness and the inevitable pale stare at the bag of breads. What has humanity driven itself towards? I looked at everyone with astonishment, but what chocked me the most was that I myself did nothing to prevent the situation or fix it. Later, when reality hit in and thoughts on how to be a truly humane come to me, I felt guilt. It felt as if it was in my hands to do something about it, but I willingly chose not to. It felt as if I had taken a bag of bread away from hungry small children waiting to have a simple dinner with their father who has been out working all day. It felt as if I was just another one in the mass crowd of social-ignorance. The bag stayed there for a station or two, but was eventually taken by new passengers – who were examining it and trying to figure out how it landed there. If it were so that I had any sense of real humanity, I would have done something about it.

Sometimes I wish I were as brave as Lisbeth Malm, 65 years old, who in 2011 had gotten on a train where there were two young people beating an another young guy up, but courageously managed to stop the fight. In her brave act she ensured the guy’s safety, by getting in between those two young people and the guy, putting her own life at risk. This is someone we should all look up to and strive to be like. This lady showed no fear and stood up for the safety and well-being of the poor guy receiving punches and kicks towards the chest and head. Whether this victim had done the other two any wrong, he shouldn’t have gotten beaten up. Lisbeth looked back at those in the train and wondered if there was no one else who had the guts to step in and help…but no one answered. I don’t think I have built up enough mental strength as this 65 year old woman to step in and stop a fight. I feel like the least I could do is run out and give a bag of bread to its owner – yet, having said that, I couldn’t even pull that little act of sympathy off.

I realize soon after that life is a lot about give and take. Give happiness and you shall receive happiness. Help and you will be helped. Put yourself in the others shoes, how would you want those around you to react? One day we will all be old and tired, will we not need assistance? Are we not occasionally tired and urgently need a seat on the train? Why then do we refuse to give seats to those who seem tired? Let me reformulate, why then do I not react to situations like described above? Why then do I not give assistance whenever I have the chance to? Why then do I refuse to give seats to those in need? I have yet to learn that “give and take” should no longer be an expression, rather a life style.

Let us try to never turn a blind eye, because you never know if one blind eye plus another could stop the whole world’s vision forever.