I can remember a trip to the grocery I made with my mom and siblings when I was a little kid. My family had just finished shopping at Vons when we walked out to the parking lot to load our groceries into the car. When we walked out of the store, we saw a man yelling at a woman. Their fight intensified, and eventually led to the man hitting the young lady he was yelling at.
The young woman was crying as she sat on the ground and the yelling continued. People walked by her and stared, but my mom wasn’t one of those people. She yelled at the man to stop. He looked her way and then took off running. My mom then walked over to the girl to help her up and offer her a ride home.
There were other people in the parking lot of that grocery store. They, like me, watched as my mom stopped to help that girl. My mom didn’t have to do it. She could have rationalized not helping. After all, she had four little kids with her. But she didn’t. She took action.
John F. Kennedy said, “There are risks and consequences to action, but they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
The nation was able to see the truth of this firsthand due to the events that unfolded last week in Cleveland.
All of this brings me to the man of the hour, Charles Ramsey. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see or hear one of his interviews, just Google his name and several will come up. Everyone should watch one, and not just because of how animated he is.
Ramsey heard a woman screaming as she was trying to break loose from the house that held her captive for a decade. He could have easily turned the other way and continued to enjoy the McDonald’s Big Mac he said he was eating at the time, but he didn’t. He went to the home and helped Amanda Berry escape, who was one of the young women being held against her will by Ariel Castro.
Now, Ramsey is being called a hero. He denies that title, saying he is simply a “Christian” and an “American,” not a hero. While Ramsey can believe whatever he wants, I consider him to be a hero. Not just because he was instrumental in helping three women get their freedom back, but because he made the conscious decision to act instead of ignore someone in need.
How easy would it have been for Ramsey to see Berry and then just walk back inside his home? Ramsey himself even admits he had doubts about helping her. He assumed she was engaged in a domestic dispute and was nervous about getting involved because of how it would look. Fortunately, he put those doubts aside and saved three women, and a young child, from having to endure more torture.
I’m sure there are neighbors and loved ones of Ariel Castro that are wondering if they could have done more. Maybe they couldn’t have. Maybe Castro was so good at what he was doing that no one would have ever guessed he was responsible for such heinous crimes.
I don’t know if someone could have done something earlier, but I’m glad Ramsey had the courage to act at the moment Amanda Berry decided to try and escape.
I would hope we would all have the courage to act when someone is in need, and not just in situations like the one in Cleveland. There are people in need of our assistance all around. There is the broken-down car on the freeway and the student who fell on their bike on the way up to campus who need assistance, but are ignored because we are too busy or don’t even notice.
Taking the time to help doesn’t have to come in the same form as Charles Ramsey. There are little things that can be done every single day. All we have to do it act.