In a world of good and evil, humans are charitable and selfish. Common decency competes with self-interest and process. Courage contrasts with cowardice. Consider two stories in the news.
A man collapsed in cardiac arrest Jan. 25 in Washington. To his potential fortune, 77-year-old Medrick "Cecil" Mills was just across the street from a fire house. His daughter ran to the station and begged for help. Others joined her. Mills was fighting for his life, they explained. The man had moments to live. Please help. A paramedic or two could save him.
Mills did not survive. His daughter and others have gone public, insisting the firefighters would not be bothered to cross the street. Instead, based on news reports, they spoke of obedience to protocol. They needed an order from central dispatch before they would respond.
Furious, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray calls the incident "an outrage." Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and the mayor insist firefighters do not need to wait on dispatch before rendering aid. Heads are rolling at the firehouse, but nothing can restore the life that is lost.
Humans have battled good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice, life and death since the temptation of Adam.
We can find no shortage of behavior that causes or allows others to suffer and die. We can hang our heads about younger generations, choosing to believe humanity has chosen an irrecoverable state of decline. Or, we can take an honest assessment of the world around us and give thanks.
As millions seek God this weekend, they should remember to focus on acts of good that are often taken for granted. They should rejoice that good overwhelms evil, even when all seems lost.
Mills deserves justice and his story should be told. But remember this: Had firefighters responded, and saved his life, we would not know the story. Firefighters save lives each day. Airplanes take off and land safely; it's the occasional crash we hear about. Families, charities and volunteers provide food shelter and clothing to the poor and homeless each day. It's the person who falls through the cracks - the rare individual who suffers in the street - who gets our attention.
Good is the norm, as most people sacrifice for others. Sometimes it gets our attention, which brings us to story two.
Three days after Mills collapsed, another plea was made for help. An Alabama hospital called Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw for emergency brain surgery on a patient with a traumatic brain injury. Hrynkiw was the only brain surgeon in the vicinity of Birmingham's Trinity Medical Center during a violent winter storm. Because of the snow, Hrynkiw could not get more than a few blocks in his effort to respond. No one would blame him for getting stuck in a blizzard that killed five people. Cell service was poor. Just before it cut out, a hospital nurse heard the doctor say "I'm walking."
This was not a trek across the street. The 62-year-old walked more than 6 miles in deadly conditions to reach the patient. Protocol, personal safety and comfort did not enter his mind. It was one person putting another ahead of himself. The patient survived.
Culture bombards us with negativity, but we should not despair. All humans have the option to choose good. Most of them do.