What Would You Do?
What would you do if you were waiting in line at the grocery store and the person ahead of you didn’t have enough money to pay for her groceries? Or what if you saw somebody steal a waiter’s tip off of the table at a restaurant, would you confront them? ABC asks this question every Friday night on their primetime show What Would You Do?
The show puts everyday people into the middle of tough situations, like the ones mentioned above. ABC hires actors and puts hidden cameras into place in order to carry out the situations. From there, we watch as everyday people are faced with a moral dilemma on whether or not they should help.
Here is a video of one of their experiments
The well-known Thomas Hobbes claimed that there is no such thing as a selfless act. He claims that even if we do something for someone else, we are still doing it out of self-interest. So, according to Hobbes, the people who stepped in and confronted the unwanted guy, in the above YouTube video, were not doing it for the girl but rather for their own selfishness.
Even though I don’t agree with Hobbes, I am going to play devil’s advocate for a minute. How do we truly know the reasons for the intervention from these customers? How do we know that they were really trying to protect this girl? Maybe they were only doing it because it is not socially acceptable to watch something like that happen without doing something about it. Society tells us that we must intervene, and we cannot just watch. The people might not have wanted the negative social consequences of just letting the flirting happen. Or maybe they were just uncomfortable. Maybe, because they were so close, they didn’t want to feel uncomfortable while they were trying to enjoy their drinks.
Even though I have offered the groundwork for the Hobbes side of this debate, I disagree. I believe that people are actually good in nature. I see too many good things being done by innocent bystanders in today’s world to believe otherwise. Whether it is the simple act of holding the door for an old lady, letting a women cut you in line, or calling the cops when a dog is locked in a car, people do selfless acts all the time.
We want to believe in the good of people and we want the world to be a better place. That’s why most of us disagree with Hobbes. Who knows how often we ever get put in these situations, but inevitably we will. And when that time comes, whether or not it is being filmed, just think… What would you do?