My heart hurts for Syria.
When I wonder how evil on such a large scale is possible, I cannot help but feel ashamed of being human. I end up disgusted at myself, because after reading an article, watching a news clip or hearing a story about Syria, I continue throughout my day, making no attempts to help alter the damages being done.
How did this situation happen? What were Syria's neighbors up to while an entire nation transformed into one of large-scale violence? Why did they not cry out for help?
Such lack of action is what Ervin Staub, most known for his psychology on mass violence and genocide, considers being a passive bystander.
Passive bystanders carry on with their days without making any attempts to help a victim on the street or a neighboring country attempting genocide.
In October 2011, a white van struck Wang Yue, a 2-year-old Chinese girl. Shortly thereafter, a truck ran over the young girl's body.
Eighteen bystanders ignored her, some even stepped over her blood. It took a total of seven minutes before a "good samaritan" called for help.
She died within eight days.
This socio-psychological phenomenon occurs when the presence of others impedes someone from helping a victim.
The probability of someone helping the victim is inversely connected to the number of people in the vicinity. The more people, the less likely anyone is to help.
This human phenomenon was first put under scrutiny in 1968 when John Darley and Bibb Latané staged emergency-type situations and waited to see how long and how many individuals took action to help a staged victim.
Only 40 percent of people offered to help a woman left in distress woman.
If everyone was watching someone suicidal jump off a bridge – would you watch too?
Apparently, the majority feels comfortable doing so.
This idea, unfortunately, can be applied to nations. This is how mass genocide happens in Syria.
The bystander effect is showing off its lazy, lousy effects on a large-scale.
As stated before, the number of people present inversely relates to possibility of an individual helping. Ignoring a nation's distress becomes even easier when we think, "the American government will help" or "the United Nations will get involved."
As a busy college student who walks around with her head in the clouds, I was on the other side of the street.
During these past few weeks, however, I feel like I just became a bystander.
Apparently this type of terrorism only reaches the news when our nation, the "good samaritan," decides there is too much blood to walk past.
Now that I consider myself an official bystander, I believe action must be taken.
I can agree things have gone too far, and intervention is imperative. This does not mean I advocate war – on the contrary – but with so many bystanders in this world, I am at least proud of America for considering taking responsibility.
Let us as citizens not continue to be passive bystanders, waiting on the "good samaritan" of our nation's government to act.
Even you weakly-militarized UT students and faculty can become active bystanders.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 1.5 million refugees and counting have fled Syria, leaving their homes and families and uprooting their entire lives.
The UNHCR is providing each refugee with clothes, food and life-saving shelter. I know it is not much, but you can donate online in less than five minutes. I did.
A few simple clicks at donate.unrefugees.org can provide medicine and equipment to literally save lives.
Take on the position of active bystander, and if you know of anything more I can do, please email me.
Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.