Humankind is often regarded as a heartless entity of life. We steal from, we lie to, and we murder each other. And at times it seems that nothing is being done by anyone to remove this stigma.
Dateline NBC did a special on the willingness of strangers to react to a crime being committed right in front of them. A known con artist was hired by the show to break into a strategically placed car, paid for by the network, in a public place, in front of pedestrians. The man simply walked to the car and broke the window with a golf club, as a handful of passer-bys were watching. And as was the point of the special, not a single individual made an attempt to step in. Not a single person reached for their cell phone to call 911, and like most other viewers I would assume, I was disappointed in my species.
However the innate goodness of human nature can be found, though maybe not on Dateline. I believe that the compassion of individuals can be seen in a time of other individual’s suffering, for I was witness to this first hand.
It was a sunny day one afternoon at the very tail end of winter. I was driving my Mazda 3 hatchback down the highway to meet a good friend for lunch. As I drove I was lost in thought about how the Mazda salesman described my car as a five-door before it was bought. I knew it was a hatchback. Suddenly I found myself yelling expletives as I slammed both feet onto the brake pedal.
The green van I had been tailgating unintentionally for the past stretch of highway had stopped incredibly quickly, luckily not quickly enough for me to slam into the rear of it. I looked over into the far left lane of highway (I was in the far right) and caught a glimpse of a metallic blue motorcycle sliding down the center of the lane, it flipped up into the air, hit the ground in the next lane over, and slid some more. The rider limped slowly and painfully behind his bike in the shoulder. However I didn’t stop to help the ill-fated rider, not because I didn’t care, but because plenty of others had already.
I watched three cars come to a complete stop across the three leftmost lanes of roadway and turned on their hazard lights directly in front of the acrobatic motorcycle. Two cars behind this trio pulled into the left shoulder and their drivers both hurriedly got out. One, a woman, ran to the rider and seemed to be asking if he was alright, while the other, a large man, sprinted between two of the three cars and quickly upped the motorcycle and guided it off the highway towards its owner.
All the disappointment given to me by Dateline had suddenly been washed away as if it were a mere mud stain on my linen cloth of a brain. I was amazed as the rider ended up with four different people around him just offering to help with his dilemma. The scene slowly rolled by me and I realized that individuals are innately good. I believe that it doesn’t take a car being broken into, but another human being in suffering to bring out the true compassion of people.
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