We shouldn’t be afraid to help

At a recent family dinner, my Uncle Greg asked the table, “If you saw someone in need of help, would you help them?”

On first thought it is an easy answer. I for one wouldn’t hesitate at offering a hand if I saw someone fall off their bike, drop their groceries or slip on ice. Saying no just wouldn’t be an option for me.

But, there is always an exception to the rule.

My mom described her own experience where she was driving to work and saw a man laying flat on his back in the middle of the sidewalk. She said she didn’t see him fall, but noticed that he wasn’t moving. Curious as to whether this man needed help, she pulled over the family SUV and got out. However, her skepticism had grown. She wondered if the man was waiting to pounce on her — an innocent bystander.

Well, if recent incidents are taken into account, it seems as though my mother’s instinct was right.

Here in Canada, there have been two recent cases of Good Samaritans being killed in their attempt to do the right thing.

The most prominent of these instances was the stabbing death of 18-year-old Jamie Kehoe who tried to break up a fight on a Surrey, B.C., bus. Kehoe was fatally injured around midnight on Oct. 8. The RCMP said they are still looking for a tall, black male and a female who fled the scene. In light of recent Good Samaritan attacks, would you be willing to lend a helping hand?

Photo by: Laura Lushington.

On the other side of the country in Aylmer, Que., Paul Hines, 57, was killed after trying to stop two men in the process of stealing a pumpkin in late September. Hines died in hospital one week later. Korey Perry, 19, has been charged with manslaughter in the case.

Locally, a 26-year-old man leaving a bar downtown was stabbed around 2 a.m. on Oct. 8. He was trying to break off a fight between two groups and while intervening was injured, said a Calgary Police Service press release. No charges have been laid.

Also in Calgary, Leslie Four Horns has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a man who had offered him a place to stay at his home back in June.

What is puzzling in all these is how an act with such good intentions could go so wrong?

Each Good Samaritan obviously witnessed an instance where they thought their assistance could be beneficial. They couldn’t have known that the other person had a weapon or ill intentions. They did it simply out of the good of their heart and for the good of humanity.

Teachers of emergency response say the first thing a person should do when they see an incident is to survey what is going on.

“In providing training to people, we’re hoping to provide them the confidence to be able to go and help in a situation,” said Kolby Walters, manager of training for St. John Ambulance’s in Alberta.

“But we do recognize that when a situation does happen an individual is going to have to make that decision as to whether they’re going to help.”

Meanwhile, a security video has been released in China of a little girl being run over by a van. After running over the girl with the front wheels, the driver pauses, continues to run her again with the back wheels and drives away. An astonishing 18 people walk or cycle past her limp and bleeding toddler; some glancing down, others looking straight ahead. A second vehicle runs her over until finally, a lady, who reports say is named Chen Xianmei, comes to the lifeless girl’s rescue.

If I had a million dollars to give Chen, I would. But, maybe a simple thank you for caring about others would suffice.

Sadly, while the girl was still alive when finally hospitalized, she died days later.

Although all these cases happened under different circumstances, the basis behind them remains the same — they were trying to stop others from being hurt, injured or alone in the world.

If we didn’t have people who turned out to be Good Samaritans on Earth, then how would we operate? Would injured people lie on streets until a police or ambulance drove past by chance? Would there be no more outdoor markets because no one stops thieves? And would a person in need of a simple hand up in life have to wait for their karma to turn around?

How would we be able to trust each other?

It my conviction that as humans out in the world, we take the chance bad things might occur. And yes, they sometimes do. But I bet, for every case of a Good Samaritan action going wrong, I can find 10 that have gone right.

And this is what we must rely on.