Erin Kelly has reason to believe there’s still plenty of good in the world, and why we shouldn’t give up on it.
It’s been said that there’s always someone who’s in a worse situation than oneself—or someone who’s less fortunate. It’s also been said that people are only out for themselves—that chivalry and faith in humanity are becoming increasingly difficult to come across, almost as if they’re already things of the past.
Some might argue that—if you look at the history of society—there’s a world of truth behind those statements. Others might even say they’ve been through enough—and seen enough—to know that these aren’t just statements. They’re codes for life.
By the same token, many may believe that the individuals with the deepest scars often shed the brightest light on the world because their stories have the power to lift people up. That belief can come from an array of places where you most expect to find hardship.
Then, there are those exceptions where you find proof of it in the most unexpected places. It’s reminiscent of this quote from Charles Kingsley about humanity:
“Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unaddressed on Earth.”
Truth be told, chivalry is perhaps the oldest, most time-tested examples of humanity today, but it’s still one of the most genuine acts of kindness that shows no boundaries or prejudices, as this short story from The Guardian proves.
The headline of the April 22 post read,
“Wheelchair user falls onto Washington subway tracks and is saved by commuters.”
While the post didn’t mention the name of the man—nor any of the people who pulled him off the tracks—it did note that he was using a motorized chair. In addition, the post included a video of the incident—along with a paragraph that briefly described the scene:
“…footage shows the [man and wheelchair] being lifted off the subway tracks by two passing commuters after he is seen driving his motorized chair off the platform. He was taken to the hospital with a bloodied face, but fortunately did not sustain serious injuries.”
I think this story is two-fold. It’s a story about the power of random acts of kindness at its core—one that essentially saved a life in this particular case. However, there are some underlying questions of liability to this that makes me think it’s also a story about accountability.
It’s worth noting that the video didn’t show anyone with the man helping him navigate his chair before he fell onto the tracks. It only shows people who happened to be passing by, and the commuters who rushed to his aid when his chair tipped over, which begs the question, “Why was this disabled man left alone in a Washington, DC subway station?” Moreover, did his disability play a role in the accident to the point where he got spooked and lost control of his chair? Or was this just a freak accident like we all have sometimes?
Lastly, what if the platform the gentleman fell off of was weak or faulty? It’s very safe to say that this could have happened to anyone. I think anyone in their right mind would be asking these same questions, regardless of who it was. However, these inquires become even more crucial because of the fact there’s a disability involved.
It can be argued that we’ve all seen stories like this at one point or another, proving that chivalry is indeed alive. It can be argued that we should take it as just that—another news story because of its commonality.
If we look at it in that light, we’re likely to ask ourselves, ‘Why should I care?’ until we become desensitized and numb to things of this nature. However, consider this: Do we—or should we regard issues such as global warming and clean water preservation so common that we simply call it news?
As a wheelchair user myself, I find it refreshing that those two commuters who helped this man didn’t hesitate or think twice. They acted and reacted out of the kindness of their own heart, and did what any good-hearted person would have done. So often, disabilities or outside appearances hinder someone’s decision to help another person. It’s a ray 0of hope to know that wasn’t the case here.
Not only that, but those commuters didn’t just lift a man off those subway tracks. They lifted a man—plus the enormous weight of a motorized wheelchair—off those tracks. I think that in itself should be applauded. My chair alone weighs anywhere from three to five hundred pounds with car batteries in the back. I can only imagine how much physical strength it must have taken to make that rescue.
It’s true that there’s always someone somewhere in the world—or around the corner—who’s gotten a shorter end of the stick than we have. There’s always someone who has something we want or admire—but that doesn’t give us the right to take it, or be so far above others that we choose not to help them however and whenever we can.
If anything, we should follow the underlying advice in Charles Kingsley’s words and have faith that someone bring light to the wrongs in the world.
Photo Credit: Alan B. Photography/Flickr