Monday, February 4, 2013

When my SKIN becomes my SIN

It was around 2 o'clock this afternoon, I was waiting for my turn to get medicine from one of the pharmacies here in Stockholm. We were about half a dozen people,  and then this very old and over-weight lady were scrambling to raise her feet in vain supported by another old but not so fragile woman when the automated queuing  machine buzzed their queue number. The old lady whom I guess was a friend/relative/care-giver or whatever was not able to lift up the other one; everybody was just simply watching as something normal or pretending looking somewhere else.
The Bystander alias Genovese effect is not uncommon; I had my own first hand experience and I know how it feels when fellow human-beings are indifferent when you are in despair. It is not unusual in this country to hear horrific stories like people being shot to death on broad-day light on streets crowded with on-lookers or a defenseless woman being gang-raped for hours near a train station or intoxicated person lying on the rails being left to be hit by the oncoming train or others who died alone and their decapitated bodies being found after weeks/months. Sorry, let me go back to my fateful and unforgettable incidence at the pharmacy, even though my gut-feeling was telling me not do so (you know when your conscious telling one thing and the subconscious asking you to do the opposite), I went (with that omnipresent self-doubt) to this old lady and tried to lift her up from the other side so that she could move with her stroller to the counter. I'll never and ever forget the mixture of  that hateful, distaste, shock, suspicious piercing stare all over her wrinkly and heavily makeup covered face when she saw who was trying to help her. My heart nearly stops and I was almost frozen for a few seconds before I backed off to my seat to contemplate about the stories I heard about the repercussion of being good in this country. To make to the long story short, another old Swedish guy lent his hand ( out of kindness or embarrassment, heaven knows) and both ladies  were relieved and said tack with wide smile , to their next of kin. Now, I understand why people get shocked when someone lends a hand to a complete stranger in this country. Who is to blame for the wide-spread of Bystander effect among Stockholmare? What can one do when his/her skin color is a sin when s/he tries nothing but be a good Samaritan? Just swallow the humiliation and move on or advise others to double-check the person's skin tone before they help lend a hand? Well, I never give up on humanity based on these kinds of random incidents until the day when we will not be judged by the color of our skins but the content of our Character. (Amen, Martin Luther King Jr.)

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