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District 9 – again, what does this movie have to do with counseling?

August 19, 2009

Connection number 2:

Sometimes bad things happen that could be stopped by others but no one does anything.  In the movie some horrible crimes are perpetrated on the aliens and people just accept what they see and hear though they feel bad about it.

So, at BCC – A fight between 2 people in one of the parking lots-  walk by? Ascertain if they are really going to hurt each other? Call Campus Safety? Take a picture with your cell phone and send to your boyfriend who says you’re stupid for being scared of violence on campus?

Consider Kitty Genovese, a woman murdered in New York City.  Many people heard her screaming for help- 38 neighbors to be exact and for nearly 40 minutes –   as she was attacked and killed but no one did anything. People were so shocked by this behavior ( a different time with different tolerances for bad things – 1964) that lots of people talked about  how to make sure this sort of thing  never happened again (a more optimistic time as well).

Back to the present – people talk about “bystander interventions” and why the impulse in a large group of people is to not intervene but to stay uninvolved when they see something happening. Lots of discussion about how to reverse this tendency and how to get people to not just watch when things are going awry or when it’s clear someone needs to do something.  Bystander intervention proponents say it’s everyone’s responsibility to get involved, to help the little old lady  who slipped and fell, to see if the young man that flipped his bike is ok, to call the police when you hear the couple next door fighting and then someone screams. Where you stand on this could make a big difference to someone.  Where someone else stands on this could make an even bigger difference to you. Don’t assume that someone else is going to do the right thing because research  shows that that is why people don’t intervene and help others – everyone thinks someone else is already doing something.

In District 9 a mild mannered bureaucrat is the hero of the movie.  Selfish, aware of the inequities the aliens suffer but charged with maintaining the status quo, he ultimately gets involved, doesn’t stand by and you could say he pays for it.  What’s it worth to get involved when you can be fairly certain that most people are not gong to?

What would you do?

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