At this link, you will find video of an act of kindness that you'd normally only see in a Hollywood movie. A man who goes by the wildly-appropriate-in-this-instance name of Stephen St. Bernard, a New York City bus driver, was walking home from work when he spotted a "commotion" outside the Coney Island housing complex in Brooklyn.
Confused? That's understandable, this footage is way more "Zapruder film" than 1080p. Just know this, there's a 7-year-old child inside that circle. She's a special needs child who, according to eyewitnesses, crawled onto a third floor air conditioning unit after sliding open the accordion-like piece of plastic that covers the window opening next to the unit. This happened next, keep your eye on the circle ...
Those three images add up to pretty much the entire meat of the story, as far as any reports you'll read anywhere are concerned. The child was unharmed, the hero suffered nothing more than an injured shoulder tendon and the parents of the child were charged with no crime. It's the kind of happy ending that's really hard to come by these days, so it's no wonder that people would focus on that part of the story. For the sake of your faith in humanity, you might want to stop reading here as well, leaving this as one of the biggest feel-good stories of the year.
For the rest of you, let's take a look at the next scene in the video.
A wider shot of the scene reveals that several people were in the vicinity of this almost horrific accident at the time. So what did everyone else do while Stephen St. Bernard was playing the hero?
Well, for starters, we have a cameraman who, judging from the film quality, was most likely on a phone. What did he do with that phone? He turned on the video camera on the off chance that he might catch some prime footage of a child falling to her death.
But let's set the cameraman aside. Instead, check out the woman in the bottom left walking down the street with her kid.
How old do you think that child she's walking with might be? We say 2 years old, tops. What's unfolding in front of this child, statistically speaking, is very likely to culminate in the death or serious injury of another child. That's going to be pretty traumatic stuff to try and take in and process at that age. Why risk putting the kid through that by standing around and watching? Save your morbid curiosities for whenever you finally build up the courage to watch Human Centipede and get that potentially dying child out of your kid's line of sight, for fuck's sake.
It gets worse. Take a gander at the guys who come into the frame in the last second or so of the video ...
They're just standing there! It's not like this happened too fast for them to react. Stephen St. Bernard has been yelling for this girl to go back inside. A child has just very nearly fallen to her death, and nobody in this crowd can maybe head over and offer up a little help? Shouldn't someone be tracking down the kid's parents at the very least? And don't even get us going about this guy ...
He spends the entirety of the video displaying all the concern of a dude waiting for the event to end so he can sell bootleg T-shirts to people as they leave the venue. At least move a little bit closer and do nothing, you know?
We've written about the bystander effect before. We get how it works and know it could technically apply here. But damn, we're not asking for heroics at this point. We'll just be happy if, going forward, we can all at least try to look a little bit more interested in the face of obvious danger.