Experts often caution people not to be heroes, not to step into dangerous situations. But an outbreak of rash heroism is happening just as the tide of stories of human beings’ seemingly limitless potential for hurting one another had risen to terrifying heights.
In Toronto on the weekend, a man waiting for a subway train had a seizure and fell onto the tracks. A father and daughter jumped onto the tracks despite the presence of an electrified third rail that could have killed them. They lifted the man onto the platform, saving his life. Police praised the rescuers, though they also cautioned that they could have taken less risky measures, too.
Also in Toronto, two men, one armed with a handgun and the other a rifle, entered a bank. One man out of the half-dozen customers stood up to them, even began to grapple with one of them. It was foolish. A robber tried to shoot him, missed and hit a teller in the leg. Then when the robbers fled with their bag of money, the same man chased them, and was shot in the stomach for his troubles. Both the injured teller and the wounded hero survived.
In Boston last week, some people rushed toward the fallen, not knowing whether more blasts were coming. One man was seen holding a legless man’s exposed artery, pinching it off while the man was wheeled toward medical aid.
Ordinary people don’t wish to leave public safety and the protection of society to those paid for concerning themselves with those things. People may be foolish on occasion, they may even expose others to greater danger. But at least we are not about nails in a pressure cooker designed to maim. We’re about the people rushing in to aid the wounded.