Caring is a Reflex

Dear Engaged bystander:  I just finished reading the most recent issue of Partners in Social Change (PISC) focused on “Bystanders: Agents of Primary Prevention.” What struck me about this publication by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs were the underlying values that thread through each and every one of these articles.  Values of:

  • hope,
  • what each of us does (or doesn’t do) matters,
  • we each have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life or in the world, and
  •  we do need to care for each other
For full disclosure, I wrote one of the articles in this issue.
In conversations with Kat Monusky, the editor of this publication, she said that she hoped the articles could provide practical examples for what individuals can do, but also provide practical insights to reframe a social environment that supports healthy relationship (not sexual violence).  
Here is a quick preview:
  • Telling a story to inspire action (Joan Tabachnick)
  • Bystander Interventions: A commentary on relationship’s roles in ending seism and mal dominance (Eli Crawford)
  • The Red Flag Campaign: Using media to engage bystanders (Liz Cascone and Kat McCord)
  • Bystander Intervention, “neat”: Practical Tips for Engaging Bar Staff in Sexual Violence Prevention (Meg Bossong)
  • Program Highlights: ASPEN and Green Dot (Clayton Self)   
Each of these articles offer a unique insight into the issue of bystander intervention. And what I love about all of them is that they talk about the importance of everyone doing something AND discuss the importance of the environment that can encourage or discourage action. For example, Meg Bossong (featured in a prevention NSVRC blog posting) talks about the importance of involving bar staff in their program. She also talks about what she learned from them as key to the program success. 
If you have time, this is a great snapshot of some great community based and college based programs. I think you will find it helpful to your work and hopefully provide you with food for thoughts and further discussion.
PS I recently read a great quote from Ram Dass where he says: “Caring is a reflex. Someone slips, your arm goes out. A car is in the ditch, you join the others and push. You live, you help.” I just love this expectation that we are there for each other.