I recently experienced a very awkward moment when I bumped into my neighbor’s husband at a Caesar’s Palace cocktail lounge. I saw him canoodling (that word kinda grosses me out) with a woman half his age. We made eye contact and then I continued on my way. In my professional life as a divorce mediator, it goes without saying that I’ve heard many stories about infidelity. I’m not inclined to judge what goes on behind the closed doors of others, but the “incident at Caesar’s” posed a moral dilemma. Should I say something?
Awhile back, my niece told me she was convinced that her babysitter was taking drugs. She decided to talk to the parents, and was told that the girl has been on anti-seizure medication for years. In fact, the babysitter’s mom was insulted by the accusation. Should my niece have said something?
I have a friend who’s a nutritionist. She recently showed me a photo of her cousin’s pre-teen son who already weighs more than 250 pounds and is clearly following in the unhealthy footsteps of his obese parents. My friend is obviously knowledgeable about healthy eating, and she happens to have a pre-teen kid herself, so she is also well aware of how kids that age can treat each other. Should she say something to the parents?
After the third time you’ve noticed multiple bruises on your hairdresser’s face, and she tells you once again that she fell, or bumped into something because she’s clumsy, you can’t help but assume she’s being abused. Do you say something to her?
I said something to the Target store manager last July when I saw a dog locked in a car with no open windows. I said something to a young mother when her toddler dropped his pacifier. I said something to the grocery store cashier when he gave me $20 too much in change.
We certainly don’t need to be reminded to say something when obvious situations occur, particularly when public and personal safety are at risk. It’s the subtle ethical and moral issues that make me ask myself, “should I say something?” And the follow-up question, what if I’m wrong?
My canoodling neighbor left me little doubt that there was some hanky-panky going on, yet there could have been another explanation. Should I say something even if I might be responsible for causing an unnecessary firestorm?
We’ve all gotten the message, “If you see something, say something.” If you’re assuming that these words pertain only to unattended luggage at the airport, or suspicious packages in your mailbox, you may need to broaden your scope. I’m digging deeper because I’m looking for some rules to govern moral and ethical dilemmas.
Would you say something to my neighbor’s wife? How about to my hairdresser? Should my niece have expressed her concern to the babysitter’s parents? What about the nutritionist’s overweight cousin (and his overweight/obese parents)?
Please comment to share your thoughts. What should I have done? What guides you? When do YOU say something?