The Good Samaritan – or – “Compassion isn’t just for work hours”

I have found that the more I try to make impacting, detailed posts on The Takedown, the less I end up actually posting things. I think a lot of that is because that when I do that, I focus more on how I’m saying something; how witty/engaging/emotionally engaging it is as opposed to what it is I’m saying. I forget the statement made by the Ghost in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir when he said, “This isn’t a blasted literary epic!” In future, I’m going to try and heed that simple advice and, God willing, end up with more posts that are meaningful and encouraging, even if they, too, aren’t “blasted literary epic(s).”

Anyone else remember the Good Samaritan? I remember the story well. It’s been used as an allegory for everything from warning children not to walk alone on dangerous streets to why it is that we should unconditionally accept refugees, to why we should accept universal healthcare. Many of the newer interpretations of the story, however are, unfortunately, dead wrong. At its base, and when you strip away the religious overtones of the story, what you’re left with is a very good look into the two basic types of human beings that exist in the world. You have those who are, primarily, out for themselves, and those who are not. Those who focus on their desires, their goals, their needs, and those who put the needs of others ahead of their own. Sadly, those people – those “Good Samaritans,” are also often the subject of ridicule and scorn by people who may feel that they are a rebuke to them. They’re characterized as “do-gooders,” “superheroes,” “crusaders,” and generally out of touch with reality because, after all, no one REALLY does that because it’s the right thing to do, do they?

Saddest of all, I have (and am) encountering it in my work in the EMS field. I encountered it when I obtained my First Responder certification, have seen it on the job, and am encountering it now as I take my courses to become an EMT. ‘Don’t go out of your way,’ the popular thinking seems to go, ‘because you could get sued and lose everything.’ ‘Don’t stick your neck out because if you do, you could lose your job.’ If you’re on the clock and covered by your agency, that’s one thing – then you HAVE to do it – but outside? No way. Hide the fact you’re an EMT or Paramedic. Don’t stop to help. Like the Levite and the Jewish priest in the story, they would advocate passing by on the other side of the road, so to speak, because it’s more important that you keep everything you have and have worked for than it is to help and possibly take the chance of being sued.

Well you know what? I’ll take that chance. I hope you would, too. The lives that were saved by people who jumped in to help – many with no training and certainly without proper body substance isolation and the like – at the Boston Marathon bombing – were saved by people who made the choice to be human and to fulfill their ethical and moral duty to their fellow man instead of backing away and saying “Hey, not MY problem. I’m not taking the chance!”

Friends – compassion and caring don’t only apply during business hours. The whole reason that we have Good Samaritan laws (sounds familiar, right?) is because people were passing by and not helping out of fear of lawsuits. People MAY laugh. Let them. People MAY think you’re all those things I named above. Let them. Those same people, I’ll wager, will be looking for someone like you if the day comes they’re bleeding their life out on the side of the road and the ambulance is nowhere to be found.

I close with this quote, taken from a story in which the man of steel, Superman, testified on the behalf of a group of superheroes who were accused of harming someone while stopping a villain. It’s never been more appropriate. I hope it never applies to myself, or to any of you:

“It’s a little sad, when you think of it – I can’t help thinking that someday, someone isn’t going to answer a call for help because they’ll be afraid; afraid of the lawsuits, the publicity, the cost – not in human lives, but in dollars and cents.”

Don’t be afraid. Step in and help, and do the right thing.

God bless, my friends.