“Won’t you please, please help me” (Beatles, Help! 1965). About help, I’m guilty often of not wanting any. Do you always accept help when it’s offered? Or, are you the one wanting to help?
What if you don’t want any help or don’t need any help? If you decline help when it’s offered, is it rude? Are you inclined to ask for help when you need it?
Many people with disabilities today, usually don’t want help. In fact, I believe that it is academic protocol to instruct us to refrain from willy-nilly helping a disabled person to navigate the ableist-world. Helping a disabled person, because of their disability, is considered not in good form.
I was once employed at a University Psychiatric Hospital, working with a renowned psychiatrist on a childhood depression project. As in every university department, we were assisted by work-study students. Long story short, I was once lectured by my boss for asking our work-study student if, in the rain, she wouldn’t mind heading out into the nasty weather to pick up our mail from a next-door building. “She’s depressed, you should just tell her what you want from her, don’t ask if she wants to help you out, it’s her job and she knows that.”
The biblical Great Commission and so much of the New Testament preaches to help others, but is that help misconstrued in today’s social climate? If you try to help somebody, does it make them feel lesser than you?
Is help a handout? Are we so caught up in earning our way through the merit system, that we can’t see the forest for the trees, declining any help, always and forever because it was offered by grace, not earned through merit?
Is help interfering with independence? Oh, to be sure, we are an independent lot, we Americans. As we age, however, our independence begins to wane and we discover we need someone to help from time to time. “Help, I need somebody, Help, not just anybody, Help, you know I need someone, help” (Beatles, Help! 1965).
“I’ll do it myself.” Sound familiar? Most kids from three to ninety-three assert their independence this way.
“If I want help, I’ll ask for it?” Is it the more respectful way to be of help, to respond willingly and with verve, when asked for help? I find, that sometimes with this tack, the former helper doesn’t want to help when you ask, because who is in control? Their help is no longer on their terms, it is on your terms.
What happens when you can’t do it yourself? I guess it’s different if you ask for help versus when you are offered help. Or, in the wisdom of your age, you find it easier to humble yourself, changed your mind and opened the door to help. “I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before” (Beatles, Help! 1965).
So, are we to stop anticipating or discerning that someone needs help, our help and just wait for them to ask? Maybe some folks consider an offer of help, too intrusive or nosy. How dare you notice that they might be struggling with something and think that you can make it better? Again, does this make you appear arrogant, that you have the solution that they haven’t already considered and without you they couldn’t get by?
Presumably, the “helping professions,” jobs in which helping others through the social-impact sector, including medicine, nursing, psychotherapy/psychological-counseling, social work, life coaching, ministry, and education are in existence as a form of help to those who need it, and who ask for it. People who fulfill these official helping roles are professional listeners, facilitators, and sounding boards. Having gotten lost in empathy and compassion-tired in these tumultuous times, one could imagine that these folks could use a little help from a friend once in a while.
“Help me if you can, I’m feeling down And I do appreciate you being round. Help me get my feet back on the ground. Won’t you please, please help me” (Beatles, Help! 1965). How can I help?