People don’t care. You don’t care. Nobody cares until it gets personal.

Feelings may be hurt but that’s the truth. You don’t care about something until it gets personal. When it affects you in anyway, shape or form, then and only then do you step into action and try to do something about it.

This is a story that one of my ex-colleague told me after the loss of his child and asked to share it in workshops that I conduct.

“It’s just another day at work and I receive a call at work from my family member. I don’t answer the call because I’m busy, thinking that I will call back later. The phone keeps ringing and finally I decide to pick up the phone.

“Hello” but obviously I am not too happy to be distracted from work. The voice on the other end is the neighbor, she says that “Your child was involved in an accident in the carpark”. I can hear her crying over the phone.

“Your child has been taken to hospital”. That’s all she keeps saying to me. I am shocked, hoping this is a prank call. I feel sad and down. I don’t know what to do. My child is only 4 years old, I promised my child to go out for dinner tonight.

I don’t know what to do. No, this can’t be happening, not to me. Why? This is my child. How can this be? I need to see my child and want to see my child now.

I start leaving work. I don’t care about work now. I don’t care about leave forms. I need to get off the island and run to the hospital. Time is moving very slowly, where is the transport. Please, please don’t let anything happen to my child.

I reach the hospital, my wife is standing there crying. I don’t want to talk to her. Not now, I don’t believe that this is true. Please don’t let this be true.

I look for reasons. I look to the doctor. I see the policemen standing there. I see everything but my child is dead.

Why? Why did this happen? Why didn’t people help my child? Why didn’t my neighbor look out for my child? My heart is so heavy. I can feel the pain in my throat as if someone is ripping my heart out from me. They have. They have taken my child.”

His life spiraled downwards after that. As a father now, I can only imagine what he went through. He walked away from his job and his wife. He blamed everyone else for this loss.

Unfortunately there are times that people just stand and watch. They do not set up and help.

You may see an incident on the road or the shopping mall. You may even comment on it but you don’t do anything about it. Why not? If you don’t do anything then who does? You expect others to help out. In fact you assume others will assist.

This is called the By- Stander Effect. Everyone stands around watching, looking and not doing anything. I prefer to call them spectators. Just like spectators in a soccer match. They make noise and complain about the team, but claim glory for things that the team did.

The question is– What if it was your family who needed help? What if it was you? Imagine in your time of need people are just standing around looking at you.

I call people selfish because until we realize that we have a gift to make a difference in someone’s life and that we need to exercise that gift- we are all selfish. It need not be a big thing.  We all have one life to lead and we can affect many other lives.

We expect our colleagues and people working for us to do things right. Have we done things right? Have we set the example ourselves?

What if the things we do now affect the lives of our families in the future? Will you do things differently?

Will you be a spectator? Or will you be the role model?

Nantha Kumaran currently is a Project Coordinator with Safety@Work, assisting with one of our projects called the Trainee Advisory Programme (TSAP). He started off in the construction & oil/gas industry. He is a safety professional and seeks to share his learning experiences he encountered whilst working, to the other professionals.

Safety@Workis an global consultancy that works with major industry players within the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions, including Shell, SADAF (Saudi Arabia), CBI Toyo, Foster Wheeler, Bovis Lend Lease, Van Oord, GEA Processes, Tetrapak,  Aker, Reliance, Sea Production and Rubicon Offshore.