A friend of mine has a problem.
What can we learn from the above sentence? Quite a few things if we put our thinking caps on. Let’s call this person Buddy. Buddy is my friend. Buddy has a problem. Right about now, we’d be aces in our simple reading comprehension class.
Also consider this. I want to help my friend. To my mind, this is a natural progression. If you call someone your friend, you should truly want to help them with a problem they have. Have you ever helped someone move? Have you ever loaned them money? Have you ever jumped in to aid them in a fight?
Hmmm. That last one is tricky. What if you’ve never been in a fight before? Most people don’t want to get hurt. The self preservation instinct kicks in. We may start asking ourselves questions about Buddy and about the situation. Who and Why is Buddy fighting? Did he start it? Does he deserve it? Uh oh, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Buddy is our friend. Friends help friends no matter what right… ? Will I get hurt if I help buddy? Am I willing to get hurt to help Buddy?
That’s it. Buddy is screwed.
In a lot of cases, for a lot of people, the answer to that last question is No. Not a qualified no as in “well it depends.” But just no. Buddy is going to get his ass kicked. Maybe by some drunk at a bar. Maybe by a spouse or partner who doesn’t know what stop means. Maybe because of an inability to keep himself out of trouble. People get into fights all the time. And their friends don’t support them, because they’re afraid of the consequences. When you’re younger, the consequences might be a black eye. When you’re an adult, the consequences turn into swift and severe legal action.
If Buddy and I beat the barfly. He could sue the both of us for assault. If I help Buddy with his domestic situation, I could be liable for invasion of privacy or something to that effect. If Buddy needs professional help in the form of some type of intervention, either Buddy or his family could sue me for… I don’t know, giving a shit? I don’t actually know what the legal implications are. But I know they might be there. And I know they’re scary. Either way the problem is I could be found in violation of the law for caring enough to help someone.
The only thing I can say is that breaks my heart. It’s never difficult to find someone willing to complain about how messed up things are these days. There’s a war going on. We’re in a recession. More and more of our friends are losing fights every day. And I think one of the big reasons is because they are going at it alone. But those same complainers turn their backs to it every day. They watch their Buddy get beat down and they can’t bring themselves to take action. Apparently someone needs to define the word “friend” for me.
There’s a valid argument that maybe Buddy’s family should ultimately be responsible for helping. But what if Buddy’s family doesn’t care as much as I do? What if they’re ignorant and irresponsible and self-centered? We’re talking about the downfall of society here, so clearly there are people who can’t count on a benevolent family support structure.
Another argument is that I should also consider my own situation when deciding whether to jump into the fray with my friend. Can I afford to be hurt? Will other people get hurt through me, like perhaps kids or my employer? Probably the most pointed question is, if I need help next, will anyone help me? These are all important things to consider and not to be taken lightly. But shouldn’t we consider them in the right context? Instead of scaring ourselves with all these “what ifs” and convincing ourselves that it’s best not to get involved, why don’t we convince ourselves to do what’s right. And then think about how to minimize the collateral damage.
Everyone has a limit. If you aren’t part of a situation, you have to be cautious about getting involved. But people survive hardships every day. We all go through hard times and somehow come out on the other side. Battered and bruised, but still standing. And isn’t it worth it to do that sometimes if you can help someone you care about? I think we have to try to take care of each other if we’re going to make it. And if we’re going to help each other, we can’t be afraid to stand up. Even if we might get hurt.
A friend of mine has a Big Problem.
I want to help my friend, but I could get hurt. So do I help anyway? Damn right I do.