Humanity Shackled


What’s wrong with these people in this picture? This might be the first thing you might ask yourselves. They are possibly watching a dying man on the highway. I’m not sure if watching is the right word choice here. It seemed like they were offering him company or comfort in his last breath. They could have done much more than being mere bystanders. No cars would volunteer to take the man to the hospital. Not a man would come out of the passing traffic to see if they could do anything to help this man. Passersby looked at the man but dared not to step forward or step out of their vehicle to check on him. Everyone seemed to know the right thing to do is to be a good Samaritan. Yet, no one was doing anything to help this man. Instead, he was surrounded as though, he needed someone to watch him die. Thus, this raises the question: How did we come to this magnitude of stupidity in the first place?

We know how our family worries about us until we get home safely every day. We want to make it to home safe and have dinner with our families, have quality family time, read bedtime stories to our children, and go to bed hoping for a better day tomorrow. The same passive bystanders or passersby also have families. They know that the right thing to do is to be useful to lighten the burden of others, bind the wounds of those hurting, and be willing to walk with the sojourner. The specific reason behind this kind of indifference toward the situation of life and death cannot be justified by any means but can be utterly understood in the proper context.

Knowing that you could be charged with murder or attempt to murder for helping someone can be more than frightening. You could end up in jail for life-term for a crime you did not commit.

We cannot claim that people lack empathy, especially in traffic accidents. The passive reaction from the passersby or bystanders has nothing to do with their unwillingness to step up to save someone’s life. It is a fear of a legal system that can later become a hangman’s noose for any good Samaritan. Once you touch or move the victim, onward your fate is not in your own control. It is most likely determined by what happens next to the victim. When the victim is taken to the hospital, a person who helped the victim will be the first person to be interrogated. A good samaritan becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the authorities. In their approach to interrogation, he or she is dehumanized and demoralized even before proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Immediately, they think that you are helping the victim merely because of an enormous sense of guilt you have felt after hurting the victim. They usually believe that there is no other reason to put yourself to possible legal harm’s way if you had nothing to do with the incident. They will be convinced only if a group of people can be an alibi during the incident.

Next, the authorities force the person to stay with the victim or in some cases, the person is detained until the victim can attest or testify of no wrongdoing or harm inflicted by the good Samaritan. Furthermore, a medical team also puts you in a notably awkward position by asking you to bear the financial burden of the victim for treatment. Unless you deposit cash in the cash registry, the victim will likely not get much attention. The hospital administration and the medical team will be concerned more about whether the victim’s family will be able to pay for the treatment.

The mental anguish that you are put through during this ordeal cannot be described until you experience firsthand. Knowing that you could be charged with murder or attempt to murder for helping someone can be more than frightening. You could end up in jail for life-term for a crime you did not commit.

I insist that many more lives could and would have been saved had a fear of hangman’s noose had not been lurking around. It has prevented humanity to take action. The investigation must be done by a due process of law; however, it also has its proper place and time. An outdated legal system that shackled the hands of a good Samaritan needs to go away. The judiciary must do away with the law that victimizes a good Samaritan once and forever. The authorities must, instead, work to build trust with communities and encourage citizens to practice good citizenship. When a victim is rushed to emergency room, the first thing authorities may want to do is to thank the good Samaritan for doing his or her part to bring the victim to safety.

“Non nobis solum nati sumus.” (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

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