NEWS

Editorial: Need for ‘Good Samaritan’ laws proof of societal apathy

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

We seem to have lost our bearing.

A 78-year-old man was struck by a hit-and-run driver last week while walking home from the grocery store in Hartford, Conn. “We no longer have a moral compass,” declared Police Chief Daryl Roberts. “We have no regard for each other.”

Roberts was not entirely correct. Four people called 911 immediately after Angel Torres was struck by a car that had swerved out of its lane and then darted down a sidestreet. One caller urged the dispatcher to “send an ambulance quick, quick, quick.” There is concern in the caller’s voice.

But is a phone call enough?

Of the four people who called 911 and the dozens of other passing pedestrians and motorists, not one stopped to give aid to Torres. Meanwhile, the retired forklift operator lay in the street paralyzed.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident.

Less than a year ago — June 23, 2007 — a stabbing victim lay dying on the floor of a convenience store in Kansas as five shoppers, including one who stopped to take a picture with her cell phone, stepped over the woman.

Worse still is the former soldier who urinated on a dying woman in Britain and covered her in shaving cream. The crowd that gathered laughed as the man desecrated a dying woman and the incident was filmed on a cell phone. The man was sentenced last fall to three years in prison.

The biblical story of the good Samaritan tells of a traveler who is beaten, robbed and left half dead on the road to Jericho. Two passersby skirt around the victim. “But as he was traveling along, a Samaritan came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with compassion.” (Luke 10:33)

The Samaritan, we are told, bandaged the man’s wounds and took him to an inn where he could recuperate. Jesus calls it a neighborly act.

A handful of states have so-called Good Samaritan laws that require people to render aid to those in peril. But it shouldn’t take a law to compel us to help our neighbors.

When we witness an atrocious act like the hit-and-run in Hartford or happen upon a victim of violence, it is our humanity that should compel us to lend a hand. And not just a thumb to punch a few numbers on a cell phone.

Galesburg Register-Mail