Humans have been endowed with an innate sense of caring.
To look out for one another, especially the weak or vulnerable.
That goes double for children.
That’s why Megan Orr Burnside called the police when she saw what she thought was a child in distress.
But she immediately judged the mother as being abusive.
It never crossed her mind that the mom might be the one who needed help.
Burnside had a sense of remorse over the situation and explained the incident of seeing a mother and her 10-year-old son violently struggling in a store parking lot in a post on Facebook.
“He was screaming and she was so angry and frustrated. We watched her get him in the car and there was a lot of physical fighting in the car. It looked like she was hitting him as well, so we called the police.”
Burnside left the scene of the incident when the police arrived.
But they ended up calling her later with some eye-opening news.
They told her that the boy was autistic and that the mother has called the police for help in the past because her son’s condition made him very violent.
The police told Burnside that they have been trying to help the mother and that she was trying the best that she could.
“I had the most overwhelming realization of my mistake,” she said.
“In my eagerness to protect the child, I neglected to offer help to the mother. Instead I ‘turned her in’ to the authorities. We sat and watched her struggle and called her in. I have felt guilt even years later that I didn’t get out of my car and offer her some help. If I had helped in that moment, it may not have led to more violence.”
Burnside she felt guilty for years about not offering to help the woman.
A few weeks before the Facebook post was written, Burnside found herself waiting on line at a thrift store with a woman and her two children.
“One toddler boy was fussing and the other boy was asking his mother to buy things,” Burnside explained.
“She was so angry and explosive at both of them, the whole store was aware of them. People stood there and watched them struggle in the line.”
She then recalled the experience she had in Tennessee. So she decided to help rather than hurt by reaching out to touch and calm him.
His mother was obviously frazzled and apologized explaining that she works nights and was barely able to think during the day.
“The Daughter of the Daughter of My Daughter” by Julie Dillon
“I know there were other things going on, but in that moment I told her I understood what it’s like to be overwhelmed. I told her she was a good mom. I told her everything was going to be okay,” Burnside said.
With this, the mother began to cry.
“I know there’s a place for the authorities to step in, but I feel like we have become a culture who watches for faults instead of opportunities to help. We have become more separated and condemning, instead of compassionate and loving and serving. If we helped more, we would have to call the authorities less.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” -Albert Einstein
Burnside said she was telling this story because someone recently called social services on a friend of hers.
“I am sad that the person who called her in didn’t ask how they could HELP HER. It’s time to stop judging each other and start helping each other, or we will only perpetuate isolation, depression, addictions, violence, and suicide. When people are overwhelmed they need help, not condemnation,” Burnside said.
I LOVE this quote so much. I posted it last year at Easter and it popped up again today. I resonate deeply with this…
Since Burnside herself had been guilty of this, she hopes that her experience will encourage others to show each other mercy and grace.
“I am grateful for reminders (even painful reminders) that we are not that separate. We are not that different. True change comes when we are given love and help, not condemnation,” Burnside said.
You can read her original post below.
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