“It’s Not My Problem” is the Root of the Problem
If we aren’t willing to find a solution to the problems that surround us, then we effectively are a part of the problem
As a New Yorker, the motto “If you see something, say something” is one that’s well-known and highly recognized regardless of what borough you live in. It promotes the idea of having unbiased community protection — like you’re a part of larger-scale neighborhood watch. A form of city-wide vigilance one could say.
But, do you ever ask yourself how often that motto is actually exercised by the average New Yorker?
I asked myself the question recently, “what have I personally done to stand up for someone in need?” and when I tried to think of an answer, I drew a blank. Because to be completely honest, I tend to keep my head down most of the time. Which I know is really horrible to admit, but it’s true.
Whenever I’m going anywhere, I always look straight ahead when I’m walking around or riding on the subway, just trying to make sure that I never make eye contact with a stranger. I do whatever I can to avoid confrontation or engage in drama for the fear and defense of my own safety.
And with the increasing racial divide and political tension that’s been bubbling up across the country (and the world) over the past year, can you really blame me?
I’m not going to lie, I had been keeping my head down long before the pandemic even began, but now, I’m far more cautious to put myself in harm’s way because I am legitimately scared of what could happen to me. And I really hate that it’s gotten to that point.
The thing is, the problem with promoting the motto, “if you see something, say something” within New York is that it entirely clashes with another motto that New Yorkers often tend to adopt — the motto, “it’s not my problem.”
And I’ve thought a lot about this motto as well. I myself have often thought, “it’s not my problem, then why should I make it my problem?” Then, that becomes an even bigger problem once it becomes my personal problem. And this was brought to my attention only a few days ago when I experienced anti-Asian racist remarks made against me in my own neighborhood.
I wished then that someone would have said something in my defense; that someone would have stood up for me when it happened. But, that didn’t happen.
And I know that if the tables were turned, I probably wouldn’t have intervened either, which made me realize the depth of the issues we’re currently dealing with in today’s society.
If we continue on with the thought that others’ problems are not our own, then we’ll never really affect any real change. If we don’t help others in need, then who will? If we aren’t willing to find a solution to the problems that surround us, then we effectively are a part of the problem. And if we think that what we do or say doesn’t matter, then that too is a part of the problem.
Because real change comes from within.
Real change comes from the multitude of little changes made by the collective. We might see ourselves as just one person, but in the bigger picture, there is strength in numbers.
We need to start being more vigilant for others and we need to start making others’ problems our own. We need to start abiding by the motto, “if you see something, say something” because if we don’t, these problems will just continue on.