To help or not to help

If my last post was inspired by a book, this post is inspired by a TV Series titled “Lie To Me”. On its recent episode, the main character’s assistant named Ria Torres received a panic call from her sister whom stays in a youth detention center. She was panic and asked her boss, Cal Lightman to help her to help her sister.


It was emotional for Torres to solve the case therefore Cal, as her senior and boss, asked her many times not to involve herself into this. She can’t think like she used to be. So Cal decided to do in his own way. Well, I’m not going to be a spoiler for this but how Torres desperately want herself to help her sister reminded me of my own experience with my little brother (whom are not so little anymore right now) which I would like to share.

My parents thought me to be my brother’s guardian, sort of, to help him whenever I can. One example is I’m good in science, and he needs more efforts on than me. Since our junior high school, my brother and I were having private tuition for Maths and Physics. The tutor will come to our house like twice a week, and each session we had around 1.5-2 hours of studying together.

But, there are times when my brother test result was not that good, or at least not up to our mom’s standard. So she felt that my brother should have more lessons. Having a tutor was expensive, so my mom thought since I’m good in it, why don’t just I give my brother extra lessons.That’s my first teaching experience, by the way.

So, sometimes I helped my brother with his science and quite often helped him with other things like setting up computers or using electric appliance or anything that he needed. I didn’t realise that I usually personally did it myself instead of teaching him patiently how to do it in a way that he can understand. I did it in my own way, and sort of forcing him to follow my lead since I used to think, if it’s work for me, that should be worked as well for him.

(Well, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.)

There are times when I was so angry with myself, why can’t I teach him on how to solve his own problems. I feel that he was too dependent. It’s easier to always has people who stands for you or to help you when you have some troubles. But who will stand for me? Sounds like I was protesting eh? Nay, it was over long time ago, it was part of my learning process.

Later when I was away for the first time in my life to continue my study, I left him alone. Sometimes when I called back home, I asked how was he doing? Was there any difficulties that he has? He shared it to me, but since I was away, the only thing I can do was, telling him what to do as detail as I could, how to solve the problem. This stage, I missed the feeling to help him to solve his problems. Strange huh?

But, this is a very valuable learning experience for me. In summary:

  1. To be more patient in helping other people,
  2. To be more understand his/her point of view, how to make new things looks simpler and not scary (yes, learning new things sometimes can be scary),
  3. To help them to solve their problem in their own way.

There are some old sayings, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It will require more effort in the beginning to teach how to fish, but it will help them a lot in the future. And, not to help them doesn’t necessarily means that we are selfish, we are helping them to grow up in their own way. It’s like our parent pointing the road, but whether to take or not, it’s up to us.

Do you have similar experience that you want to share?