The car burst into flames. Four men dashed from their cars, working in tandem to save the elderly woman trapped inside the burning car. They did not turn away from the flames. They did not run. They stayed.
A life was at risk. They did not know the person in the car. They did not know each other. They did not stop to see what color she was or what her religious affiliation happened to be. They did not ask if she could speak English or if she was a legal alien. They did not know if she was rich or poor. They jumped into the flames. They did not ask.
My daughter-in-law, Lisa, and I walked past the library where a class was doing Tai Chi. “I would love to do that,” I said. She laughed at me. I saw nothing funny in my comment. “Pam, your mind runs faster than anyone I know. You would do it for about three minutes, then you would be looking around bored with the class. You probably would start talking to the person next to you and end up sitting in the grass in deep conversation.”
She was right. I probably would end up inviting the person to come over for coffee. Being an observer has its drawbacks. I never stop taking in all the things around me be they alive or not. So when hearing this story about these four heroes, I asked myself a question: Am I a runner or a stayer. I had to ask.
The lost child stood crying in the aisle. No other adult was in sight. I sat on the floor of the big store and softly talked to the child. I was not a threat.The store manager came over and asked if I would stay with the child while he paged the parents. I sat there for a very long time wondering about these people who did not miss this small boy. Eventually, they came plodding down the aisle. When they reached the child who was now sitting in my lap, they said, “Come on” and walked away. The store manager and I just looked at one another. God bless the children. They do not ask.
The woman sat sobbing in her car. A car full of children. We were at the middle school heading for home. She was starting to pull away. I got out of the car, much to the embarrassment of my children, and tapped on her window. “Are you okay?” I asked. She looked at me and sobbed. I put a hand on her shoulder and told her to be careful. She dried her eyes and said she would. As she drove off, I said a prayer. She did not ask.
Little things. Not just the big things, but the little things. Yes, my mother embarrassed us over and over again when she reached out. “Mom, it is none of your business!!!!” we always said. Yes, I dreaded adventures with mom. We never knew what would happen. Mom loved people. She went out of her way to erase pain and sadness. Her arms were ready to comfort and care about another in distress. She took in the world at a moment’s notice. I am my mother’s child.
We are a world of different circumstances, different languages, different ways of living. Being a white American woman does not make my way the best way. Whether we like it or not, we are a small bit of the entire picture. I cannot judge by what I know. I can only judge myself by what I do not know. Too many of people in this world, in this country, fail to realize that all lives matter. But, they do not ask.
I am blessed by the colors of this world, by the people, by nature, by the very breath I breathe. I take it all in and hope I give back. We do not own this earth. We are not the leaders. We are part of the whole. Would you jump into the flames for a stranger? I have to ask.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of On Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.