Compassion, Skepticism [and Hypnotism]


As I was heading down the escalator after gym, a thin man and his young son approached me. With shame and fear, his voice stutters as he tried to talk to me. I wanted to keep moving, keep walking away from this suspicious man. But I could not. And so I stopped and listened to his tale.

His story was that he and his son was kicked out of the house by his in-laws, without any of his belongings or his child’s. As I did not want to pry, I did not question as to what happened, but it was heartless of them to kick their grandchild along with the man. Anyway – the pair wanted to ride the economy bus to return to his side of family. However, they are short of cash for the ride. They just needed a little bit more – just Rp. 60,000 (roughly $4USD). Of course, what kind of person would I be if I were to refuse handing out a mere sum for them. And so I did. They were very thankful, and headed out to find their bus.

Of course, this story is not something to write home about. It was a mere small act of kindness. However, still a tale to share with the family – something interesting that happened in my mundane life. As I ended my story, I expected warm responses and a glimmer of tiny pride.
That was not the case. Instead, I was met with questions of distrust towards that poor man and his son.

“What did he look like?”
– A man that needed help.

“You know you can judge a scam by the way they dress?”
– He is dressed like any other men.

“I think you were scammed.”
– It is his own conscious he is toying with. I gave out of compassion.

“He is going to keep scamming people over there.”
– The mall security will catch him then.

“It is a scam, what a waste of money.”
– It is not going to affect my life adversely.

“What if he hypnotizes you?”

Really? I am already a skeptic on the whole hypnotism thing, and besides he would be a master magician if he could hypnotize someone just by staring, touching or spouting key words. Heck, he will be a superhero like The Rumor (of The Umbrella Academy).


However, this distrust was not unwarranted. In Indonesia – a country already rife with high petty crimes and  mysticism, believes that such occurrence could happen. The media reports on crimes that the victim believes that was perpetrated by the use of mysticism – hypnotism being the most common occurrence. These crimes were administered through acts such as the staring, and touching – to which,  believe were not possible unless the perpetrators has special gifts and should be scouted by Professor X.

The sad part is…that this resulted in compassion being always met with skepticism.
Strangers grow to distrust one another – the kind believes that there is always an ulterior motive(the bad kind), the needy ashamed and misunderstood. Acts of kindness are seen as weaknesses. The needy – abundant and yet no one would help for the fear of becoming a victim of tricksters.

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