Over the years, I have enjoyed the TV show “What Would You Do?” If you are unfamiliar with it, the show sets up a compromising scenario with actors, and tapes the reaction of those unsuspecting people at the scene who are confronted with the situation, to see what they do. Often there is something of a clear need for decision, such as how to react in the presence of a shoplifter, the abuse of a drunkard, etc. While making allowances for different courses of action for different people, e.g. men and women, the show often exposes the lack of decision, and sometimes indifference of some.
The premise of the show is to make the viewer think, “What would you do?” in that situation. A frequent rub is that the viewers (and typically the participants in the show,) have never faced the situation before. At times, someone steps up to the plate and is then lauded. Other instances reveal unawareness, indecision, or indifference.
I often give a break to those who show unawareness or indecision because they have been thrust into a circumstance they have never faced before. They may be unsure of the right thing, they may feel unconfident, or they may not have time to really consider what to do. And on top of all that, sometimes there is not a clearly correct choice. Take for example, the spanking of a child. There are many views on that.
After the show, and having had the luxury of considering each problem, I have worked out what I would indeed do. Those on the show probably wish they had been given the chance to think about it ahead of time. Wouldn’t it always be more convenient to be confronted with the dilemma ahead of time?
Of course, sometimes we can’t. We can’t anticipate all scenarios, and can always be caught off guard. But often we have seen the same episode play over and over, and have become mired in a wavering cowardice:
The homeless man asking for money has confronted us all.
We have all been in the presence of gossip.
We have all been witness to the hypocrisy of someone close to us.
The one ideal that I take from the show is to decide what to do ahead of time.
Sometimes there is not a single correct decision to make. Should I give the homeless man money? Is it best not to? Sometimes, it’s just up to you. But make a decision what to do ahead of time and replace the question “What would I do?” with “This is what I will do.”