Much is being said about the other passengers on the bus who didn't make an effort to subdue the man who stabbed to death and then decapitated the 22 year old victim Tim McLean, Jr.
I want to put my own position on this matter out there and if it makes me a bad person, then I'm a bad person - but I'm not in the habit of apologizing for who I am, so there you have that.
I feel awful for the victim and his family. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have such a thing happen to you, to your loved one, and to have to suffer the agony not only of the event itself but also of the press coverage it has garnered before the victim was even properly identified. It is heartbreaking and I wished there were something that could have been done to prevent this tragedy. I cannot imagine that there are many who feel differently. Where the turn in the road happens for me is in taking action against the assailant exacting this horrific crime and judging those who tried to escape from the scene before they became the next victims.
I find it really disturbing that people are judging the other passengers so harshly for not trying to stop this man. In fact, the demonization of the passengers who fled the bus is sickening. Mostly because until that's you in the situation, you cannot speak to that - only to what you MIGHT do were this situation unfolding differently. Comparisons were made to the 9/11 passengers that overtook the terrorists in the Pennsylvania crash, which I also find an unfair comparison as those people had the time and presence of mind to organize and make an informed decision as a group - not the case here. To say nothing of the way this event came into play. The man was quiet and a bit suspicious, but come on - who really imagines something like this is about to happen ANYWHERE, let alone on a quiet bus ride through rural Canada? When the attack began, there was no warning at all, it was immediate. The victim was likely dead by all accounts before the last remaining passenger exited the bus.
Let's also take into account the attacker for a moment. By eyewitness accounts he was a large and powerful man, over 6' tall and at the very least 200 lbs. He was also savagely attacking someone defenseless with a rather large hunting style knife, which according to witnesses was as large as a butcher's knife. In order to do what he did to the victim, he was clearly a sociopath in the throes of a psychotic episode, whether or not he intended to carry the act as far as he did is anyone's guess.
In the split second that such mayhem breaks out around you, anyone within reach could have been just as violently attacked. He could have just been getting started for all we know. There were parents of small children on this bus and people screaming and scrambling to get out in a panic. In the instant that such a thing breaks out, this savage and unthinkable murder begins in full view, are you REALLY going to react to it with indifference and dispassionate apathy? Are you really of the presence of mind to intervene, possibly risking your own life and almost certainly risking grave injury to yourself and possibly others in this exact same scenario? Can you assume all of that responsibility for yourself and possibly others in a matter of seconds? If your answer is "YES", then it is a damned shame you weren't on that bus, Superman.
My answer speaking only for myself in this or a similar situation is an unequivocal "NO". Certainly not in an instance where it is total panic and chaos, and not against an attacker that could easily overpower me. It would always be a different answer in different circumstances, taking into consideration advantages and disadvantages, and the timing of the act. When you are totally taken by surprise, there's really no telling how you might react. It's all fine and well to imagine what you THINK you might do, but it's an entirely different reality when such a thing comes down on you.
I have dozens of close friends and family members, some of whom are reading this as you all are. Several nieces and nephews varying in ages from 15 to 1 year(s) old. I have a responsibility to take the best care possible of not just them but also of myself so that I can be there FOR them, WITH them, an active part of their lives. To risk myself recklessly - however nobly or well intentioned would ensure my status as a hero in the hearts and minds of those I would leave behind, but they don't need me to be a hero - I certainly don't need to be one either - they need me to be alive and show up when I'm needed and wanted. They need me here and able to function when it is necessary because anything can and will happen to call you home for difficult duties.
If I found myself in an instance where I believed my intervention would help someone who is being hurt or victimized, and figured my own life is unlikely to be compromised, of course I would make a choice to help - but in an identical situation like the one in Canada on Wednesday, I cannot make that choice and I don't think most would choose differently when push comes to shove. I would never say that the actions of one intervening in this situation would be less than heroic, or that they would be foolish. I'm saying that if you weren't on that bus and didn't have that experience, yet you feel yourself fit to make judgments on those who were and ran for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones, that's rather assholish of you and I really hope you never have to experience such a thing as this in order to prove either your hypocrisy or the courage of your convictions.