The very first time I saw Lean on Me, this scene stuck out to me because it was a very powerful message.
It wasn’t a stand out scene but it set the tone for the entire movie. You may have only processed it subconsciously but you instantly got it when you heard it. It is so powerful yet and so simple to understand yet most don’t recognize the impact of it.
Mr. Clark was simply describing how people are who we define them as and thus we can’t be surprised if/when they live up to those expectations. But what happens when people expect themselves to be treated like animals? That’s exactly what happened at East Side High; the "good kids" were so used to watching "bad kids" get treated as if there were failures that they began to become failures themselves and then the teachers treated all of the students the same.
In everyday life, we expect people to fail (admit it to yourself, it’s
ok normal), we expect people to give up on others. Due to this we start to expect ourselves to fail and we start to expect people to give up on us when we are in the same situation but we want to be helped. Why does this happen? Because we expect people to treat us like we treat others or how we see them treat others. In psychology this is unofficially called Herd Mentality.
A good example of this is when we see cars disabled on the side of the road with the driver standing outside of it in need of help. There are very few people if any that would stop to provide aid yet if we were in that situation we would hope that someone would stop but expect no one to do it. You want to be saved, you need to be saved but so many just pass you by. The situation thus encourages you to not help someone when you see them in the same situation. Had someone stopped, chances are you would be more encouraged to help next time you saw someone in need. ABC created a whole show around it called What Would You Do?. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about it.
So what happens when there is a life on the line:
Before I use this unfortunate event as an example I must say that I in no way condemn anyone involved for their actions, abilities or lack there of. It was a tragedy to hear about and I’m sure it was far worse for them to experience first hand. I mention this story only to draw parallels on the forthcoming points.
What would you do in this situation where someone is drowning but you can’t swim? A co-worker and I discussed this when this story happened and he believes that you should go jump in and try to save the kids. I, actually not being able to swim, say that you should do what ever possible to help but jumping in could hurt rather than help. It is a tough question to answer to yourself: Do you do whatever you can or give up to let them struggle or do you fight for them and possibly go down with them?
For the people that are close to me that I care about, I often do everything I can to help when they need it. Often going above and beyond what others think I should. I believe you should support people as much as you would want them to support you, if not more than they would you. Think about the last time you were in a time of need or didn’t realize you were in need and someone was there for you. Now image if that person wasn’t there or the last time someone wasn’t. Did you expect someone to help? Now I’m not talking about major life events. It could’ve been as simple as dropping something in a crowed room, having your hands full while approaching a door or moving your residence. You get the idea.
When people come through for you, it feels good. When you don’t expect people to help and they do, it feels amazing! When you help people it feels amazing for yourself also. Try to notice when people want or need your help because they will want to return the favor to you one day or even to a stranger.
A few weeks ago I was walking into a market and there was a woman outside with a teenaged girl. She had her ID and EBT card in her hand while asking for help to get food for her kids. As I walked up I saw many people walk by them and not saying a word. When I approached I told her I didn’t have cash but if she needed I could pay for whatever she needed. She agreed and walked out with something to eat for the night. I don’t know if she was telling the truth but I couldn’t take that chance when I have the capability to help.
They say you should pay it forward but I think you should just pay it without expecting something in return or that it would benefit you in the future.