Tag Archives: An Innocent Murdered
Most people are probably familiar with the “Good Samaritan” story in the Bible. It’s the one Jesus told about a traveler who is beaten, robbed, and left to die on the road. A priest comes by, sees the man, but walks on. So too does a Levite who sees the dying man. But a Samaritan sees the man, binds his wounds, and takes him to an inn, asking the innkeeper to take care of him, giving him money for his troubles.
Penelope, a character in my novel, Sissy, takes pity on the men running away from Quantrill’s raiders, who, in 1863, killed nearly 200 men in Lawrence, Kansas. One of the raiders approaches her. “Men keep disappearing here,” one of the men growls, looking down at her with black, contemptuous eyes. “Yeah,” says another. “Where’re they hiding?” She glares back at them. “I’m not going to tell you.” Who did they think she was, she thought, a fool? The first man draws his horse nearer to her and pulls out his pistol, aiming it at her face. “Tell me, lady, or I’ll shoot you!” No man, Penelope thought, should ever dare tell her to do the wrong thing. She lived her life believing that. And she’d die—if she had to.“You may shoot me if you will, but you won’t ever find out where the men are.”
On the opposite extreme is a lack of compassion. In my historical novel, All Parts Together, Jessica’s friend Matt asks her to give widows comfort after the 1863 Quantrill raid. “I am not capable of giving others comfort,” she finally says. “That is the reason I could never be a nurse like my friend Mary helping the wounded in this horrible war. Ask me to drive a team, charge the enemy on a battlefield, or even rescue negroes from slave states, and I would gladly do it.” She adds: “I wish I were like other women,” she said, her mouth twitching. “Docile, humble, obedient, and helpless. I wish I had all those qualities you would expect in a lady.”
Even in the 21st century, there is a great shortage of good Samaritans in the world. While part of it may be our preoccupation with ourselves and our busy lives, another part may be due to fear of litigation. I recently received the following from a Twitter friend named Ruoxu from China. Here’s his story:
Hello, I want to tell you about a situation involving compassion in China. A few years ago, a famous lawsuit was started by an elderly lady. She was struck by a car and plummeted to the street. A young man came to her aid and took her to a hospital. However, instead of thanking him she sued him, claiming he was the one responsible for her injuries.
Since there were no witnesses or other evidence conflicting with her testimony, the court rules that the young man must compensate for her injury because ‘generally speaking, people in China have rarely helped someone in situations like this.’
This ruling all but killed any compassion people may have felt for others. After the lawsuit, most people were convinced that helping someone in desperate need was dangerous. A few days after this happened, a Chinese newspaper reported that another elderly lady fell down in the street, but this time no one came to help. She was left there in the street, severely injured, and died.
Peng Yu is the name of the young man who wanted to be compassionate. His “crime” in helping out the elderly lady was to pay her 45876.6 yuan as compensation. [Note the photo accompanying this blog is Pena Vu while the other is a caricature of an elderly man who falls down but no one dares to help.]
Fear of getting sued by the victim precipitated Good Samaritan laws in our country. But these laws only protect the rescuer if the rescuer is not compensated monetarily for his or her own actions. In other words, a policeman or fireman who attempts to rescue someone can still be later sued by the one who was rescued. Also, if the rescuer is later rewarded by anyone (including the person rescued), he or she can still be sued.
While fear of legal retaliation may be one reason some people may feat being a good Samaritan, I believe another major factor is preoccupation with our own selves. Now that we have all kinds of electronic devices and don’t really have to communicate face-to-face or by handwritten letters that require more thought that emails. I hope I don’t sound as if I’m judging anyone. It’s just the way things are these days.
Hard-hitting examples of compassion–or the lack thereof–exist in all of my books…can be found in all of my books. Even in a children’s chapter book called HOMER THE ROAMER. Click the cover on the right-hand of this page to get an idea about this story. You’ll wag your tail as I tell this tale about this lost and loveable little cat.
- You wanted to kill those bastards who did it.
- You couldn’t believe it.
- You were scared.
When I wrote a historical novel named Sissy, I had a character named Jessica Radford in 1862 who was shocked to learn her parents were brutally murdered–burned alive in their house–by a border ruffian named Sam Toby. Jessica’s words were: “He’s the wretch I’m going to send straight to hell.”
In my murder mystery, An Innocent Murdered, I had a detective named Matt Gunnison who couldn’t believe that a certain someone killed a sweet 8-year-old girl. Matt later goes to a church and weeps. A friend of Matt’s offers him a tissue. “Hey, I’m all right,” he said, embarrassed that she had seen him cry. She dries her own tears. “This is a good place to go when you’re in a lot of pain,” she says wistfully. “Yeah,” he says, “I guess it is.”
Audrey, a level-headed intelligent astronaut becomes unglued in my novel Advent when she finally tells Greg she now believes the earth may be on a collision course with a celestial body called Nemesis “Oh, Greg, I’m frightened. Even Bowles is now curious about your SOR21 star. He said he wanted to gather all the available data on it from other observatories and see if he could make some sense from all of it. I’m sorry I was so stubborn, Greg. Why can’t I see things the way they really are?” With the state of the world being as it is, what are we to do when our child is born?” Greg frowns. “What do you mean?” “Oh, Greg, I think I may be pregnant.”
When the attack on the Twin Towers occurred on 9/11/2001, our initial emotions were probably a mixture of shock, anger, and grief, probably all mixed into one. Mine was one of fear as I dropped to my knees and prayed to God, believing that the entire country was under attack. But now that I’ve sorted through all of this ugliness, all of this unbelievable horror, I realize that some good came from this tragedy. Signs of compassion were evident just about everywhere.
Take 33-year-old Todd Beamer, for instance. Todd and other passengers on the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 93 learned via cell phones and air phones that two other airlines were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. There was no doubt in his mind that UA 93 was probably headed for its next target–either the U.S. Capitol or the White House. A normal reaction would have been one of shock, followed by climbing into one’s shell to prepare to meet his or her Maker. I mean if you know you’re going to die, you shut everything else from you mind and concentrate solely on thinking about yourself and your loved ones. Not Todd Beamer. Yes, he thought about his family–his wife Lisa, his two young sons, and a daughter who was to be born four months later. But he also felt a sense of duty and a compassion for our country should UA 93 meet its intended target. While on an air phone with a GTE supervisor named Lisa Jefferson, he told and Ms. Jefferson that he and other men on the plane would jump the hijackers. Then he prayed the “Our Father” with her, but his last two words–full of unselfish determination–were “Let’s roll.”
I’ll continue this discussion on a future blog about 9/11 and what it might have to do with angels. But in the meantime, you might be interested in learning what role compassion played or didn’t play in Lincoln’s assassination. My historical novel All Parts Together, will give you some interesting insight into the matter. I hope you will at least click on the book cover at the right of this page and read the summary. I think you will discover why this novel was seriously considered for a Pulitzer Prize nomination.