The Affecting Bystanders


It would be nice to believe we are entitled to enjoy and rely on the comforting presence of a favorable community.  Family and friends are the first to come to mind.  Colleagues and neighbors are next.  And we would like to believe that even strangers will not be harmful to us as long as we are not harming them.  After all we do not need their approval, just an amiable or distant neutrality.

However the peaceful and non-aggressive world we desire has become a hornet’s nest.  People we do not know may be aggressive to us for reasons we may never know, understand, or mitigate.  Aggression builds on intolerance, ignorance, and misdirected retaliation.

For evidence, look at the comments added to posts on social media.  Even if posts are about pink clouds, sunny meadows and cute pandas there will be people whose frustration, misunderstanding, or rage is manifest in violent critics.  Why can’t they just ignore the posts they do not agree with?  Why can’t they just be mere bystanders with no reaction required?

If a person becomes successful (in sports, arts, business, science, anything) chances are that he/she will become the target of detraction.  Almost instantly a vociferous chorus of critics starts the demolition of either the person or the success.  It goes without saying that none of the critics has ever come close to a similar success or the skills required, but this does not matter.  The chorus feeds on the members’ envy and incompetence.  Why can’t they suppress the urge for destruction?

If a person is different in race, religion, gender, and preferences (sexual, political, or anything else) – even in communities where equality of rights is legally protected there are bystanders who simply, brutally or sometimes lethally cannot accept it.  In the age of free information and reign of democratic rights there are some who must loudly criticize and even violently defend their tyrannical beliefs – at any expense.  Why do they think they are right and everybody else is wrong?  Why cannot reason, fairness, or common sense prevail in preventing verbal abuse, physical aggression or even deadly terror?

“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”

Timothy Keller





Sometimes I dream about bystanders just standing by or passing by.  In silent peace.  Leaving us alone.