I am a firefighter and a paramedic. I travel to emergencies to help the sick and injured. A large part of what I do is about dealing with people, understanding their needs and providing for them.
My experiences as a paramedic have brought me to an understanding of people I never would have imagined. My values and moral compass are a reflection of things that have happened to me, and since a big part of my life has been devoted to helping those who are sick or injured it follows that my view of people comes from that. It is when I see people in vulnerable states that for a moment I can truly understand them, it allows me to see each person as an individual who is important and deserves respect regardless of who they are or where they’re from.
Through the course of my shift I make friends with people that I would otherwise never meet. I am thrust into these situations where someone is sick or hurt in some way, physically or emotionally. I have to spend time with them, figure out a way to relate to them and help. If only more people could see their community through the eyes of mine, they would see how similar we all are and how trivial our differences.
I have learned of the struggle of communication and ways to overcome this roadblock. When we are hurt, or sick or suffering, we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are not male or female, we are not black or white, we are not of any nationality, we are just people, humans. On a larger scale think about when a foreign nation has suffered great loss of life, other nations, even potential adversaries, will rush to the aid of the nation in need. It is unfortunate I suppose that it takes crisis and pain to lead to this sort of revelation, but it is true.
It is agony, despair and suffering that tear down our walls and expose us for who we are. It is humans in the raw, vulnerable and weak, this is when we see that we are the same. It is this connection that I get to the community in which I work that drives me and makes my job so rewarding.
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to see people the way I do, not sick and dying, but exposed and open. People everywhere in our world are the same, and not so different as many would like us to think. We are all just ordinary humans in need of each other, this, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.