Are Latinas more likely to help a stranger in need?

I've been living in the U.S. for so long that I can no longer tell when my attitudes and behavior differ from others because of my Latina upbringing--either because of the way I was brought up or just because of the way I am. Do you feel this way? Most Latinos are typically brought up to be cooperative and to believe that the needs of la familia and community are as important as, or perhaps even more important, than the needs of the individual. I don't know if my tendency to help a stranger who is suffering is because of culture or the way I was brought up.


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Last summer my mom was staying with us in New Rochelle, New York when she went to help a neighbor who had collapsed in a busy street. She was doing her daily power walk and stopped to help. She said cars, joggers and even a biker whom she asked to help slowed down but didn't stop. She had to basically carry the man to his home a block away.

This week there was a man sitting on the floor of the overpass at New Rochelle train station incoherent, foaming at the mouth. I was at the end of the line of people exiting the train. I immediately called 911 and waited for the police to come. No one else stopped to help! The man did not fit the mold of the typical N.Y.C. commuter--he was tall, dressed in street clothes, African American with dreadlocks. The man my mom helped was a typical, white suburban male from my neighborhood. So I don't think it's about race or class. I ask myself if this would also happen back in Chile?

Sometimes I feel like I've idealized my patria and my culture and perhaps this is just about the society that we live in. Everyone is so busy and consumed by their personal issues that people don't take the time or have become insensitive to the suffering of others. Or perhaps it's the fear of being sued if you do get involved.

I spoke to mi mamá who still lives in Chile about this subject and she told me: "Mi amor, it's not just the U.S. It's today's society. We value material things more rather than people and Dios. And it's getting worse with the younger generations as they are consumed by technology. I think collaboration is now an individual trait." My mom is a wise mamá Latina!

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Topics: advice  latin culture  inspiring stories