SOME time ago a religious journal ran a series of intriguing articles under the general title, "If I Were a Minister." Every article was written by a layman whose privilege it was to "sit under" a particular preacher Sunday by Sunday. Ministers were told firmly, yet kindly, all sorts of useful things how to preach, how to pray in public, how to visit the sick, how to counsel the perplexed, how to work happily with all sorts of people, how to look after the young and the middle-aged and the old, how to deal with the strong-willed and with the tenderhearted members of the flock, how to manage the cranks who come along, and so on. . .
I first learned the term, the bystander effect, in my undergraduate social psychology class. Wikipedia defines it as "a psychological phenomenon in which someone is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when other people are present and able to help than when he or she is alone." The article references a variety of horrific incidences in which dozens of bystanders "stood by" and did nothing as homicides occurred before their eyes.