On the Edge: Part 1 Standing on the Sidelines

One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life”.   I love the scene where George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) & Mary Hatch – later Bailey (played by Donna Reed) are at the high school dance caught up in the Charleston contest.  In the scene a jealous rival (trivia moment: played by the actor who played Alphalfa in the Little Rascals) finds out that the gym floor opens up to reveal a pool and that George was dancing right over the opening and that the button to open the floor was right in front of him.  As most of us know, the rival presses the button and after several dance moves the couple finds themselves falling into the pool.

As the couple is dancing they continue to get dangerously close to the edge and can see the reaction of those around them, however; they have no idea it’s because of pending misfortune for the couple.  George thinks that they are being watched because of the great job they are doing.

Points to Ponder:

  • Why didn’t someone tell this couple about the potential harm that was coming their way?  Here is a large group of people standing around this couple just watching and waiting for them to fall in.  Not one person made a move to stop them from falling. (OK, don’t get all goofy about it, I know it’s a movie but it can have real life implications)
  • How many times in our lives do we stand by and watch friends and family on the edge of harm and say nothing because we don’t want to interfere?
  • What would it take to step out of our excuses and at least caution someone of potential harm? I want to be clear, I know it is uncomfortable to step out of our comfort zone and share our concern with them, I also know that there are risks involved such as conflict, loss of relationship as well as the potential to be blamed for some bad outcome, however; there is also the opportunity to help someone move in a healthier direction.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of families and I can share with you that a recurring theme is: we knew something was changing but we didn’t know what to do.  Unfortunately, many times, that led to the family doing nothing.

When you see someone headed for potential harm, whether it is the effects of medication, increasing depression or potential addiction standing by and watching can lead to the need for re-active decision-making, guilt and unnecessary pain.  Sometimes we can make a choice to say something and the person still goes down the same path, however; we will never know unless we take that step.

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About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked in the geriatric healthcare field for over 25 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes" (http://www.AlongComesGrandpa.com). As a Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and enthusiasm to assist corporations in finding solutions to work/life balance challenges and pro-actively educate and empower their employees.
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