Do we need more VIGILANTism in our society?

Below is an intriguing video. The video follows an experiment where that simulates a kidnapping of a 7-yr old child.

In the video, the young girl seems to do every thing right. She yells, fights back and repeatedly shouts out ‘Not my daddy’ – all while dozens of people pass her by.

It took nearly an hour before a passer-by actually responded. Had this been a real kidnapping, it would have resulted in an amber alert. Even though it was transpiring in the midst of a populated public area.

A couple of insights based on this video:

1) The pair of men that responded, the first in an hour of simulation, had appearances that some would shy away from on the street. Black, dressed in urban fashion, etc. But they were the only ones to actually to act and come to the child’s aid. Just something to think about before making judgments by the cover.

2) An old woman was dialing 9-11. No one is expecting you to risk your life. Just to do what you can.

3) The little girl did everything by the book. She did her part as is commonly trained. The effect was minimal. A scary scary thing to us dads.

BTW, I personally advocate for the use of “stranger” over the more commonly taught “not my daddy”. First off, this eliminates any confusion in the minds of passer-bys. Could this be an uncle, a baby sitter, or a step-dad and a child of a divorce. All of which could be situation to cause a child to make such exclamations. In fact, my brother-in-law did that to my wife’s mother when he was two. The second advantage of the term “stranger” is that it reduces any ambiguity. A passer by is immediately going to understand that the child does not recognize this person – and therefore something is NOT right.


Why did this happen? Why did this simulation fail so miserably?

I think there a number of influencing factors. Some people may have just been so occupied they didn’t register what was going on. Others, figured “Someone else would do something.”

I believe a significant contributing factor is our societies government encouraged dictates to “not act”. Our government repeatedly instructs it’s citizens to let the “authorities” handle it. Don’t be involved, let the professionals take care of it. All in the name of safety…

And to a degree, they are right. One shouldn’t leap out and try to stop a drug deal going down in the dark back alley behind your house.

But it must be balanced. And there are times and situations which require action. And a good citizen, a good member of a community – takes action.

Now does that mean you blaze in to the defense of your neighbor’s house as a gang busts down his door. That might be an action to take only if you possess the skills, and tools to handle such a situation (ie: SWAT, Special Forces, Rambo). But, if it were your family. I wager you’d be quite pleased to have a neighbor come to your aid.

But it does it mean you should get off your butt and at least dial 9-11. And ready your first aid kit.

Every person has to choose whether they should risk their life and well-being for a cause. That’s not something one should be criticized for. But as a society, we should expect ourselves and others to at least respond and raise a “hue and cry”.

And that is something we have lost in our society. It used to be considered proper action to shout and point in the direction of a fleeing felon to aid the pursuers in the chase. But a society who has had it so ingrained not to ever step out of line, no longer knows how to react to unusual circumstances and situations.

We often as a society look negatively upon the term vigilante.

vig·i·lan·te [vij-uh-lan-tee]
1. a member of a vigilance committee.
2. any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.

But we need to remember that the root of vigilante is the word vigilant.

vig·i·lant [vij-uh-luhnt]
1. keenly watchful to detect danger; wary: a vigilant sentry.
2. ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.

And I’ll argue that everyone of us should be “vigilant”.


Published in: on January 15, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I started to comment, but it got too long so I left it as a post on my blog.

  2. And a follow up:

    Is it more of a condemnation of our society that, in the experiment we discussed yesterday, more of the onlookers didn’t assume the worst in what they saw happening, or the obvious presumption that they should have?

    Feel free to discuss there or here…I’m checking back occasionally for comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: