Revised Spring 2008 - Harlan, Guy
When one thinks of protecting the weak, there is more to it than just helping the innocent and protecting the powerless. It takes cooperation both to be able to give a lending hand as well as to accept one yourself.
We all have two choices in this world, to take action, or to walk away. Sometimes one is harder then the other. Sometimes we may know what the right thing is but do nothing. Protecting the weak may be one of the greatest values we choose to possess. This single value says so much about an individual and their virtues of integrity, character and humility.
An elderly neighbor of mine, “Frank” told me one day that “Protecting the weak no longer happens. Whatever happened to helping out, doing the simple things?” I felt that “Frank” had a great point in this. Now "Frank" is from the old school, a WWII vet and believes that chivalry is part of protecting the weak. As he says, "The simple things like opening doors for the elderly, open you car door for your wife before your own, or seating your wife at you table before yourself". Well I'm not here saying that women are weak or even below us, however, I feel he has a certain point about protecting. Men are no longer brought up to be the virtuous beings they used to be. Men were to be wise in everything they did, to be strong, compassionate, honest, forthcoming, steadfast and honorable. I believe that this was the very base of "Franks" comments. I walk around this town viewing teenagers laughing at elderly women carefully walking across icy streets at a grocery store. I watch students in this very school see someone in need because they dropped their books or pen but instead of helping out they just look and continue on their way without a care in the world.
I believe that our country has replaced out value of protecting others to protecting just ourselves. Perhaps it has something to do with certain events that have happened in the past. Lets take 9/11. Before this time airports were just as safe as bus stops. You could come and go as you please with no worries about danger. Now getting onto a flight people get a little tense about whom they may be sitting next to. Or how about Katrina, one of the worst events that has ever happened to our nation. The entire city of New Orleans was in some kind of need, but when the National Guard and Coast Guard went in to try and help and save the residential population, certain individuals started shooting at them in a hostile way.
A friend of mine working here in Billings for AMR (an ambulance service) always tells me some interesting stories. In one instance, medics who went downtown to help someone in need were greeted with knives and fists. In another, they went to a bar to tend to someone who overdosed, but the ladies drunken boyfriend didn't want his girlfriend to get touched and was willing to get violent.
Now, I am not saying that people need to get out there and help - risking life and limb but I wish people could see the difference. Help someone pick up his or her books, open doors, take action when no one else does. I believe that by defending the weak, we take a bold step in following a certain code of behavior and promote this code of ethics to others as well.
Institutions that embody this value are any of the public safety positions within a city such as police officers, firefighters or paramedics. People who dedicate their career to serving and protecting the community. Police officers protect us against each other, firefighters rush in and help us out when something is ablaze, paramedics take charge when we have tragic accidents and nurses and doctors help to heal our ailments at the hospital. We could all help out by just standing up for someone.
Therefore, I invite you all to take charge and make a difference. "Do onto others that you would want to be done onto you." The famous Golden Rule that I think so many of us have forgotten. We must no longer stand back and watch, ignore or walk away. Instead, we should stand in, help out and be an example. I fear that if we do not, we may lost our sense of community and respect for one another.