Every instinct told me to help. Which one did I listen to? The voice that said, “Don’t get involved.”

Once, I was walking home from work. Across the street, I saw some bigger kids beating up a smaller kid.

Every instinct told me to help. Which one did I listen to? The voice that said, “Don’t get involved.”

So, I didn’t.

I can only hope he’s fine, that he worked out his own issues and all of that.

But having walked away as I did, that feeling I had? I never forgot it. It was awful. While I did not cause the issue, I also did nothing to assist. I worried about making the problem worse: My intervention would mean greater retaliation for the kid once I was gone and really, how much could I help? this was pre cell phones. So, I could yell, raise my voice? Not much else really.

In the end did I make the right decision? In all likelihood, probably.

Would I make the same decision now? I don’t know. I think I’d probably get involved some how. Or… maybe I’d do exactly the same thing.

But the difference between then and now is: I remember the feeling I got by not intervening. Not a good feeling. So, whether I’d want a repeat of that feeling or take the chance of helping even if it backfired? I don’t know.

===

A purely rational system of risk/reward analysis can only get one so far. I suffer often from analysis paralysis from time to time. The emotional “push” is needed. So in a sense, this experience was good as it gives me that additional metric: the emotional push stemming from the regret I felt at not having acted previously.

So, the calculation in the future is forever modified. I don’t know if it’s enough, but that’s at least one point in the favor of the potential value of regret.

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