I heard this as I was driving home, a car parked in the middle of the street, in no mans land as it were, hazard lights flashing, the tone of the voice sent me into high alert and I quickly scanned the street, head down, holding tightly to a small boy and a little girl, she walked, it was then I saw him, scruffy, bearded and trying to stand over her. Heart beating fast, mind full of scenarios , and making decisions. No time to think or call the Police, I pulled alongside her and said, do you need a ride?
Oh please Paul, how did you know it was me, where did you come from, hop in I said as the man got back into his car and then pulled up alongside me. he went to get out of the car and I told him, don’t bother, just get in the car and keep driving, nothing here for you. He said who the hell do you think you are and opened his door, fight or flight ran through my mind, the little boy was not belted in yet and it wasn’t safe to drive off, a door was open no time to lock the doors, one last chance, I said dont, mess with me, in a cool calm voice, I work for the Government, not a place you want to go, ( I am a teacher, I didn’t tell him that) I saw him hesitate and I said go on now while you still can, I thought yep I can take this guy I was about to burst out of the car and he backed off, sat there glaring at me, I looked around and everybody was buckled up I said where to, love oh its a long way, I will walk she said, no way was my reply, now my place the Police Station or…. can you take me home please, sure I said as long as you will be safe. Oh he’s not my partner.
A story of a broken down car, a tow rope snapping, inexperience with being towed, alcohol, disqualified driving, those were the top layers, but it is so much more than that. An acquaintance I cannot remember her name to my shame, but I didn’t know it was her when I turned around, she again questioned me and said I prayed for help. I didn’t respond from a message from God, however that might look, I just responded out of my humanity. You see under all of this is a story of domestic violence, a story of poverty, housing shortages and indifference towards her plight and the plight of thousands of woman like her, especially in small town New Zealand where I live. She wants to leave but she can’t get a house. You see all she wants out of life is for her children to get a good education and to be free from violence.
I don’t know all of her story, all I know is she lives miles from anywhere and she is stuck. The story won’t end there because you see now I know I have to do something because well a friend posted this yesterday on her facebook page and it is true,
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So it goes on my list, I will need to do what I can, I don’t know what that looks like just know but I know what doing nothing looks like, I saw it in the wide eyes of a little boy and the quivering lip of a little girl.
Please don’t tell me I am a good man or a hero, I don’t want to hear that just be aware of what is around you, I know many people cannot intervene like I did, and would not know where to start to help, but even if all you can do is call the Police then that is something. For evil to flourish it takes good people to do nothing…
Love, peace and hope to you all, and if you are in a situation of violence, if you are trapped, try reaching out, tell someone somewhere if you can…