Why people don’t do unto others

September 21, 2017

do-unto-othersDuring Harvey we saw so many people step up to help in wondrous ways. 

At the same time, my social media feed was filled with people calling names and insulting others who were not behaving the way the poster wanted them to in the face of Houston’s devastation. Or Florida’s.  For the most part, the posters felt those others weren’t “stepping up” sufficiently.

I’m not big on name-calling. I don’t think it gets us anywhere. But, I feel their pain.

We have to be shown how.

By nature, I’m someone who steps up. I’m pretty sure it’s because my mother was that way and she modeled it for me. If someone needed help of any kind, she was there: trips to the doctor, food, money, anything. If she could help, she would. And I’m that way, too. And, I’m happy to say, so is my husband.

To my disappointment, I’ve discovered that many people are NOT that way. In fact, most people don’t seem to want to go out of their way to help another, unless it’s an extreme emergency.

Although I’m pretty self-sufficient and haven’t needed much help in my life, there have a been a couple of times in recent years when I HAVE needed help. Times when I’ve been in a group of friends and it was clear I needed help –and NO ONE stepped up. Even people I’d helped.

I didn’t need money. I needed presence and support. Each of the people involved had that to give. And didn’t.

I knew it was because no one wanted to interrupt their good time or whatever they were doing. Their field of vision extended about two feet in front of them and that’s it.  So, yes, disappointed, for sure. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I’ve seen very little of most of those women since. Because, and I’m being honest, I respected them far less after that experience.

We don’t like to disrupt our lives.

So, it’s not a surprise that some sat on their asses while people affected by stomrs suffered. Now, it’s absolutely true that many, MANY people stepped up. I know they did. And it’s wonderful!

But others who could afford to give time, money, effort, didn’t.

Shame on them.

Almost every day presents opportunities of all kinds to step up for someone in some way. To do a kindness. To help someone without being asked.

Or just to care.  And you know what? It’s a learned behavior.

I remember when my husband left me and his entire family disappeared, instantly.  It was the first family divorce before divorce was common and I’m certain no one really knew what to do. Not at the time. Still, I was terribly hurt.

I swore I’d never treat someone like that. So when my brother left his wife, I stayed in her life. I just knew how she’d feel if we all vanished like my ex-husband’s family did to me. So I stuck.  It helped that I really liked her. But she’s been a beloved member of my close family ever since, and we’re even closer than before he left.

So it’s possible to learn from what happens to us. And it’s always the right thing to step up and help another. To do unto others.

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25 comments on “Why people don’t do unto others
  1. Holly says:

    I agree the inclination to step up and help is a learned behavior. I do believe most people truly like the *idea* of helping others but, as you said, it’s inconvenient. Sad to say…

  2. Jen Temcio says:

    I am a person who was taught to live by that moral code of doing unto others and I teach it to my children. Peer pressure, desensitization and other societal issues make it harder to act freely this way. I know that I am often scared to help because of crime and not trusting my safety. It stinks. If we all did it, we would all be happy.

  3. Why do people do this? I my opinion, selfishness and lack of time. The first being the dominant factor. There are takers and givers in this world. Some people are both, it is rare though.

  4. I was brought up to “do unto others”, and I teach that to my kids, as well. I think it’s important to step up anytime you see an opening to help others, especially in dire times.

  5. Tammy says:

    I, too, find this to be the case among so many people. Major tragedy calls us to act. But the day to day tragedies that we all endure seem to go un-noticed. I agree that so many simply don’t know what to do. I was guilty of that in my younger years. I have since learned to voice my support in whatever way is needed. Whatever way. Sometimes you don’t need to know what to say or do, sometimes you just need to be there.

  6. Pam Wattenbarger says:

    It is so important to do unto others. My father was a pastor so that was one thing that he really emphasized. The golden rule.

  7. Jeanine says:

    I’ll never get why people do this. I’ve always lived by the words, do unto others. It’s something I strongly try to make sure my kids live by as well.

  8. Liz Mays says:

    It is difficult to break away from our own lives and lend a hand. I thought it was encouraging that lots of small groups and organizations traveled to Texas to help out though.

  9. I have learned this lesson the hard way. I feel like younger generations especially are bad at just being their for others. They have so much going on, and they are only concerned about themselves. I have learned to always reach out and help others even when it isn’t convenient, and stay true to my world. I want to be the kind of person others can rely on, and for those out there that don’t care to help, I will certainly remember that in the future.

  10. Doing unto others has always been my mantra and I try to help as much as I can. It’s sad that the concept isn’t being embraced by those who have the most influence, especially during this last year. It’s sad to think leading by example has gone out of style.

  11. If people who could stepped up there would be less people in need. I think it’s our duty as a society to help others so that we could all live a good life. It’s definitely what I teach my children as well. There’s nothing better than compassion towards others.

  12. This is a good reminder for all of us. If we can help, why not extend that arm and help out! It’s really what the world needs right now, more kindness and compassion towards others. Especially after all that’s happening in the world.

  13. Wendy Polisi says:

    I grew up with that being my mother’s focus. So, I am blessed to have it flood my life for many years.

  14. I definitely agree that it has to be taught. Sadly, people don’t automatically think of others because we are a selfish species.

  15. Rosey says:

    I was self-sufficient forever, than a blast came. A big one. I waited so long to ask, thinking I could do it, I could recover without help, that by the time I reached out to people I sounded need an desperate (both of which I was by that time) but it was not something I liked that I did. Of course most people didn’t help and I get it. That’s why I never ask to start with, but I started looking beyond myself and helping others (volunteering at homeless shelters, giving all I could of my time to my church,,etc and a lot of good things then started to happen to me! Helping others was the break through I needed to help me (doors opened, people who had no idea what we were going through offered us things, etc.). It was nice… so I get what you’re saying. Like you though, I try my best to step up when it comes to others, always have, and though we live far from those hit by Harvey and Irma, we did help with both, financially, several times. If we had been there, or close by we’d have helped with other things too. Humanity. We need each other to care. 🙂

  16. I too was quite impressed with the support and help that people gave each other during those difficult times. Kudo for keeping close to your sister-in-law, just because you are no longer a couple with her brother doesn’t mean you cut everyone out. Thanks for sharing

  17. Cynthia says:

    Social media turns some people into entitled, selfish, judgemental monsters. I saw a video recently where people were laughing at a drunk man, sleeping under the rain. They said things like “that’s what you get for drinking”, and such and such. Why do they think they can share a video like that? I was appalled. This is a person with a family, a brother, a father, a husband, and what people did? Instead of helping him out, they took time to make a video and post it on the internet. Sad times we are living in.

  18. This is beautiful. Thank you!

  19. Myrah Duque says:

    Totally agree. Unfortunately, many people are selfish and don’t think of others in the same way. This is why I have taught my daughter that there’s nothing better than compassion towards others.

  20. There is so much suffering right now. It makes my heart ache. Reading this is helping me realize I can do more and try my best to offer compassion and support!

  21. I love the notion that we’re all connected, but I think we all give in different ways. I tend to be a really great listener. I can give a patient, non-judgmental ear in times of struggle. And when my life supports it, I volunteer my time. My mom has always given time to the elderly, even before she reached her eighties, because that’s always been her gift. My boyfriend is always willing to give loose change to those less fortunate asking on the street. We all offer different gifts, and as a global community, we lift each other up.

  22. I am impressed that you can stay in your brother’s ex-wife’s life. Although I know there is usually such bitter feelings going on that it’s hard to do that sort of a thing. I know that my ex’s family and my family can’t stand being with the opposite ex-spouse because they feel they need to support their child and turn their back on this old relationship.

  23. Adeyemisi says:

    It’s so sad when people who you expect much from leave you when you need them the most… We live in a selfish world obviously

  24. Ingrid says:

    We don’t like to disrupt our lives.but lives this is the only way we can offer meaningful help. to others. It is an inconvenience to help others but in life we only have what you give away. By observing t he principle of ‘doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’; our own lives become enriched.

  25. Dogvills says:

    I try to reach out and help as much as I can. However, there are some people who take advantage of your kindness and walk up your door asking for something else.I am glad that you are there to support your brother’s ex-wife. If their relationship did not work, it doesn’t mean you also have to cut your relationship with her. You have such a beautiful heart

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