Outside of a Small Circle of Friends - Phil Ochs - 1964
Inspiration for song: On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside of her apartment, over a period of at least 30 minutes, with the attacker leaving and returning to the scene a few times. Originally an estimated 38 people saw parts of the attack; that estimate over the past forty six years has been reduced, but at least a dozen people saw, and did nothing.
Introduction to Psychology courses use the Kitty Genovese story, and several studies that followed to discuss The Bystander Effect. The idea that you are less likely to react to a situation like this if (1) you believe there are others who might help (2) there are other bystanders doing nothing -- convincing you that the situation isn't serious.
Luckie Daniels at Our Georgia Roots mentions a case Last Sunday of a homeless man in Queens. Stabbed, and lay dying in a pool of blood for over an hour. At least 25 people walked by.
Luckie is most certainly correct. Because psychologists understand why we act the way we do, doesn't give us permission to continue acting that way. We have to fight the urge to let others respond, and trust our own instincts on what we see happening around us.
Note: If you are reading this somewhere where the videos above have been trimmed, you can view them here.