One of the saddest displays of common-place cowardice among people is the social phenomenon of diffusion of responsibility. A crowd can observe a crime take place and remarkably no one will step up to stop itt. This is due to the assumption that someone else surely will take action so I don’t have to.
There are many variations of this situation, with different “effects” named after them by sociologists, but the bottom line is that it’s difficult for a person to ignore his social environment and instead follow the cold rationality of his values. We are much better followers than leaders. I think this is not such a bad thing in most cases, but on matters that you are truly passionate about, you need to be the first person to take action, not the second.
Even outside questions of morality, being the first to act is the best way to get ahead of the competition. If you have an idea that you believe is a good one, but no one else does, that’s you opportunity to take the big plunge and go with it. You will likely fail in the short term, but if you succeed, you will be rewarded greatly for being the first. And even short-term failure, if not taken to heart, will lead to the kind of improvement that will assure long-term success.
Here’s a video of someone stepping up and saving the life of a man who almost gets run over by a train:
And in a completely unrelated note, when I searched “be the first” on YouTube, the following music video by Hankat came up. I don’t know who they are but I’ve never seen such a uniquely emotional vibe in a music video. Great work: