Please give generously

Some random day. Some random location. Some random woman, on some random bench. I sat there also, though we had never met before. I had never actually seen her before, and wouldn’t have noticed had she not been crying.

It was a busy spot apparently, as the crowds passed us by in both directions, not a soul so much as paying attention to her distress. That is how I came to be sitting here. I am not the type of person to simply ignore and walk by.

She was sobbing into her communication device, talking to someone on the other end. She was shaking, her face swollen from the tears, her voice hoarse from the screaming and crying. Yet still, I just sat there.

I wanted to help. Truly. 

What was I to say? “It’s ok?” I don’t know her situation. Do I offer to help? What could I possibly do to actually make things better. Do I offer to listen if she wants to talk about it? Why would she want to talk to me? These, and a thousand more questions entered my mind, none with a solid answer.

I felt very inadequate.

My own day thus far had not been much better. My commanding officer had barked at me all morning until I finally told him where he could stick his opinions, then stormed out of the military complex to get some fresh air. I started my day getting a sound tongue lashing from the CEO of the corporation I belong to. I didn’t get much sleep last night either, out late on recon patrol.

I ran more scenarios through my head. She could just tell me to get lost. How would I react to that? Would I feel angry? What right did I really have to feel angry at that? Would I feel rejected, trying to offer help only to be turned down flat? She might think I was trying to hit on her. Do I look like that kind of sleaze?  I was becoming annoyed; not with her, but with myself. 

It reminded me of the vids for charities you see so often. “Please give generously” they always say. Do we actually give because we care about whatever the charity represents? I often wonder. If we really cared, wouldn’t we give of our time? Wouldn’t we tangibly help? Giving money is the easiest fix I think. It doesn’t cost us our time, nor sweat, nor effort. Just write the cheque and make the guilt go away. 

We give for ourselves. Seriously. That feeling of doing “right”. It makes us feel less condemned. We aren’t one of those horrible people that does nothing, even though in fact, that is exactly what we are doing. It’s the very minimum we could do. Why do you think the charities ask for our money? They know we won’t give anything more.

I didn’t need the rejection and self condemnation today. I was already getting myself worked up over the “what ifs”. We do that to ourselves a lot too. I sighed audibly, then stood up from the bench, and continued on my way. She would be ok, right? I mean, are we really that vain that we believe people won’t be ok if we don’t intervene? I couldn’t stop the thoughts from hammering me.

It wasn’t my most shining moment. Maybe I should’ve helped. Maybe I’m a selfish bastard for worrying more about myself.

Maybe I’m just like everyone else.