We Are All Bystanders


But we don’t have to be. Dacher Keltner and Jason Marsh explain why we sometimes shackle our moral instincts, and how we can set them free.

For more than 40 years, Peggy Kirihara has felt guilty about Stewart.

Peggy liked Stewart. They went to high school together. Their fathers were friends, both farmers in California’s Central Valley, and Peggy would always say “hi” when she passed Stewart in the hall.

Yet every day when Stewart boarded their school bus, a couple of boys would tease him mercilessly. And every day, Peggy would just sit in her seat, silent.

“I was dying inside for him,” she said. “There were enough of us on the bus who were feeling awful—we could have done something. But none of us said anything.”

Peggy still can’t explain why she didn’t stick up for Stewart. She had known his tormenters since they were all little kids, and she didn’t find them threatening. She thinks if she had spoken up on his behalf, other kids might have chimed in to make the teasing stop.

But perhaps most surprising—and distressing—to Peggy is that she considers herself an assertive and moral person, yet those convictions aren’t backed up by her conduct on the bus.

For additional information: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/we_are_all_bystanders


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