Courageous Kindness ​

A stranger helped a woman in New York City on the subway after she was verbally harassed and followed onto her train. The woman shared on social media how a man named Michael read the situation and came up with an ingenious tactic to help her out of harm’s way. Michael pretended to know the woman and even gave her a fake name, allowing her to leave the situation without attracting attention. The woman was grateful for Michael’s quick thinking and praised men like him who are aware of situations like that. One of the users on IG praised Michael’s intervention and hoped she would have the courage to be like him if she encountered a similar situation. 

It’s heartwarming to hear about people like Michael who step in to help those in need. It’s sad and infuriating that situations like the one the woman on the train experienced are all too common, but it’s reassuring to know that there are still kind people out there willing to help. It’s important to remember that if you witness something like this happening to someone else, you can also step in and offer assistance or notify authorities if necessary. Please note – Better to err on the side of caution and do what you can to help, not what you wish you could do. 

In the 1970s, New York had a different face. A sense of safety had a different meaning than today. Cynthia Page was a young copywriter working in Manhattan and living in New Jersey. One night, after missing the train home, she found herself trapped in a phone booth at the train station, surrounded by a group of tall, threatening-looking men. She was legitimately frightened and didn’t know what to do.

Just then, she heard an angry, booming male voice coming through the train station. The man was shouting about how they were going to miss their train. The sea of men surrounding the phone booth parted, and marching through came a well-dressed, well-suited man. The man opened the phone booth door, grabbed Page by the arm, pulled her out, and moved her through the station. As they walked, he continued to talk loudly and complain about almost missing their train, as if he knew her. He waited with her for another train, and once he saw that she was safe, he disappeared.

More than 50 years later, Page still wonders what would have happened if that stranger hadn’t come to help her. “I think it does remind you what kind of kindness there is out there,” Page said. “It reminds you of the connection that we all have together at some very deep-rooted level. And it is a wonderful feeling.”

This story is a reminder of the power of kindness and the impact that one person can have on another’s life. People will not forget an unexpected act of kindness and how it made them feel. It also speaks to the importance of being aware of our surroundings and taking action to help others in need. Even in the midst of a busy train station in a large city, there is always the potential for human connection and acts of compassion. Cynthia Page’s story serves as a testament to that fact.

These two stories serve as a powerful reminder of the impact of human kindness and the potential for one person to make a difference in another’s life. However, they also highlight the challenges we face when it comes to intervening in situations of need. Despite the desire of many to act courageously in such circumstances, fear and diffusion of responsibility often prevent people from taking action.

Nonetheless, as we learn from the stories of Michael and the well-dressed man, it is possible to overcome these obstacles and have a positive impact on someone’s life. By prioritizing our values and acting in accordance with them, we can all strive to be the kind of person who makes a difference.

I consider myself fortunate to be able to engage in conversations with people from various backgrounds on a daily basis. When this topic came up, many have expressed their desire to act like Michael in similar situations. However, not everyone possesses the necessary skills to defend themselves, let alone protect others. It’s not about the ability to fight but rather projecting confidence and being mission-driven. Like the men in these stories, many others have done the right thing by intervening when they saw someone in need. While it is natural to feel fear in such situations, courage is about feeling the fear and still doing the right thing.

Many people believe that they would step in to help someone in need if they were faced with such a situation. However, research has shown that in reality, only a small percentage of people actually follow through with their intentions to help others, particularly in situations that require courage or personal risk.

One reason of many reasons for this discrepancy between intention and action is the phenomenon of diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when individuals believe that someone else will step in to help, and therefore they do not feel personally responsible for taking action. This can happen in crowded or public places, where individuals assume that someone else will intervene or call for help, and therefore they do not take action themselves. To overcome this, it’s important to realize that every individual has a responsibility to help others in need and to take action when necessary.

Another reason is the fear of personal harm or negative consequences. Individuals may feel that intervening could put themselves in danger or that they may face negative consequences for getting involved. This fear can be particularly strong in situations involving violence or aggression. It’s important to recognize that while there may be risks involved in helping others, the potential benefits of intervening far outweigh the risks.

But courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability to overcome it in order to do something that is greater than oneself. It is a virtue that requires individuals to prioritize their values and act in accordance with them, even in the face of fear or uncertainty. However, not everyone possesses the same level of courage. Some individuals may be naturally more inclined to act courageously, while others may struggle with fear and anxiety. People may attribute their lack of action to external factors such as time constraints, other competing priorities, and personal safety concerns.

To cultivate courage, individuals can engage in deliberate practice and training like Krav Maga. Seeking out challenging experiences and taking small steps towards overcoming fear can help build courage over time. Additionally, individuals can practice self-reflection and prioritize their values to develop a clearer sense of purpose and mission.

Ultimately, courage is a vital virtue that can inspire positive change and make a meaningful impact in the world. By recognizing the importance of courage and working to cultivate it within ourselves and others, we can create a more compassionate and just society. Despite the challenges involved, it is important to remember that even small acts of kindness and compassion can have a significant impact. Stepping in to help someone in need can not only improve their situation, but it can also create a ripple effect of kindness and inspire others to do the same.

In my view, Krav Maga is the solution; it helps to increase the likelihood of helping others in need, as many of my students have done in the past. When we practice being aware of our surroundings, actively analyzing situations, and looking for opportunities to help, if you wish to educate yourself on bystander intervention techniques, please read my previous blog about it.

I hope this inspired you to do something amazing for others. 


Tsahi Shemesh
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts