See Something/Do Something Day
February 15, 2007
We've already blogged about the heroic altruism of Wesley Autrey (aka the NYC "Subway Superman") as a perfect example of someone who has transcended "the psychology of the bystander"–the theme of the latest issue of Greater Good.
Now a group of people, inspired by Autrey, have launched a new holiday called See Something/Do Something Day.
Mark your calendars: The first ever See Something/Do Something Day is this Saturday, February 17th. Here's how the folks behind SSDS Day describe their idea:
"You see something in distress, do the right thing. You know? Help out." Wesley Autrey, the New York City resident who leapt to the aid of a young man in the path of an oncoming train, said that. He saw someone in need. He did something. He saved a life. On February 17, we hope you will do something, too. See Something/Do Something Day is an effort to open all of our eyes to the needs we sometimes choose not to see: the homeless man with no breakfast. The schoolyard with no kickball. The elderly neighbor with no ride to the grocery store. The block where no one stops to clean the littered sidewalks. On See Something/Do Something Day, we hope you will see what you want your world to be. And then we hope you will do something to help create it. For more ideas on what you might see and do, talk to your friends, neighbors, and community members, and see the ideas posted at www.seesomethingdosomething.com. Feb. 17. See Something? Do Something.
In an email, the group's founder, Betsy O'Donovan, added,
We're actively soliciting stories about SSDS activities (and supporting photos or similar) to share ideas and progress. We're in this for the long haul and hope to see the idea gain ground as the years go by.
The concept is simple, but that's part of what makes the whole premise so radical: It's a grassroots effort to induce other people to overcome the powerful bystander effect. That's especially appropriate given how the bystander effect feeds on itself. The more people who witness a crisis, the less likely any one of them will respond to it, as they assume someone else will take action. So SSDS Day runs that kind of social influence in reverse, turning potential bystanders into real-world heroes–and (hopefully) inspiring more of us to follow their example.