I was awakened a few nights ago with the harsh words of an obvious argument coming from my neighbour’s house between a man and a woman. I didn’t want to listen, but their voices were very loud, it was 1 a.m. and I was groggy with sleep deprivation.
I went to the back door of my house which is next to the wall with the porch where my female neighbour was having it out with some man. I stood there in a quandary. Loud, nasty arguments are rare in my neighbourhood. What, if anything could I or should I do?
I knew if a physical fight broke out, I would call G4S and start shouting like a mad woman, recording the fight with my phone and threatening (in colourful ‘hood language) to neuter the man throwing the punches. But, luckily it never came to that.
Most of you are probably saying, well, if you get involved, what if they have a gun or both of them turn on you? To that, I say…you are hypocrites!
You stand in your pews and sing and clap to Jesus on Sundays and forget the parable of the Good Samaritan. You forget the question, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” And you forget the adage that evil thrives when good men do nothing. All too often Namibians stand by and watch while someone else suffers. People witness someone getting robbed or beaten and watch it like it is a reality TV show. People let their own selfishness and fear keep their minds focused inward.
All that said, I will not be stupid about interfering in unknown situations. There are ways to insert yourself that make better sense. A shout, a whistle or noise-maker, a water pipe turned on to douse the two people, a flashing camera, filming the incident, testifying in court after the fact, or calling G4S (the police will not come at all or in time) are ways to intervene that might help (or might make things worse…it is a risk).
So for me, in the wee hours, listening to that argument, I wondered what to do. I stood there with my barking dogs, ready to shout. I roused my entire household and then…the man arguing with my neighbour left. But, there was my neighbour, crying her eyes out in his wake.
Should we intervene when someone is in distress or mind our own business?
If it was one of my own crying, I would not hesitate to rush them into my arms and soothe them. But, my neighbourhood in Namibia is not like those in which I was raised back in the ‘hood. Back then, everyone knew everyone and cared. This is not the case anymore, at least not in large cities (In Namibia or anywhere else I have lived). I don’t even know my Namibian neighbours’ names, though I have tried to smile and wave every time we see each other.
Looking back on the crying incident, I chastise myself for not at least shouting over the wall that I was there if she needed me. I should not have gone back to bed, but waited there at least until she stopped crying. I could have offered her two fingers of Jack Daniels or some chamomile tea. But, I didn’t.
I now feel that my human obligation to offer succour to someone in need, should have outweighed my fear of rejection, insults or even physical threat.
We all should begin to consider participating in the world and not hiding or running from it or only observing it. Otherwise, we are part of the problem and not a part of the solution.