I posted something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about the Australian Nurse Kirsty Boden who went to help people injured during the London Bridge attack on 3rd June 2017. Kirsty had been eating in a Bistro with two friends when they witnessed the attack; while most diners were attempting to escape the attackers, she apparently told her friends, “I’m a nurse. I have to go and help. I need to see if they need help”. I posted a link to the Guardian news report and commented, “I know lots of people do good things; but I’m a nurse, and she was one of us. Proud to be a nurse!”
Since I made the post I’ve been thinking about it and reflecting on those people who ‘do good things’, and there’s lots of them. I think it started when I read about a guy called Adrian Heili who saved the life of Daniel Biddle, during the London tube bombing in July 2005, by pinching his femoral artery between his finger and thumb and stopping him bleeding to death; Adrian Heili was a former soldier in the Austrian Army. There were other people there that day who also did amazing things: Dave Hill, a policeman; Brett Darsley, a firefighter; Jason Rennie, an ex-serviceman from South Africa; Steve Hucklesby, a Methodist churchworker were just a few, and there were people at other mass atrocities who did similar things.
I remember reading about the US Army serviceman, Matthew Cobos, who used his body to shield a woman during the 2017 Las Vegas shootings, before going back to help other victims who had been shot. Then there was Abdul Aziz, a worshipper at the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the March 2019 Christchurch shootings, who distracted the attacker by throwing things at him in the car park thereby stopping him from entering the Mosque and killing more people. Then there is the Frenchman, Didi, who went back into the Bataclan concert hall in Paris four times during the 2015 attacks to lead people trapped inside to safety. And the young Italian man, Rami Shehata, who used his mobile phone to communicate with the outside world after his school bus was hijacked by the driver, who was threatening to set the bus and everyone in it on fire. For every terrorist attack or violent outrage there seems to be as many, if not more, people ‘giving’ as there are ‘taking’.
And it’s not just in high profile situations that people do these ‘good things’. Every day there are people who stop and help another, sometimes at no cost to themselves and sometimes at some risk. From people who drop a pound into the cup of the guy sitting on the street to people who help care for someone in a car accident. The woman, a trained first-aider, who probably saved the life of a guy trapped in a car accident by stopping other helpers from pulling him out of the wreckage; it turned out he had a broken neck and would probably have died if he was moved without appropriate paramedic input. The people who quietly stand up against injustice; Tess Asplund in Sweden, Lucie Myslikova in the Czech Republic are examples (in both senses of the word). People who just go to work every day in public service roles, choosing to contribute directly to society rather than make ‘big bucks’ for themselves. People who do make big bucks and then quietly direct some of their money and time into projects that benefit society (there are nice rich people too).
And so I’ve come to the conclusion that, while there are clearly some people who do what we might call, ‘bad things’, there are many, many more people who do good things; quietly, repeatedly, every day. In short: people are amazing. Proud to be a person!