YARBROUGH COLUMN: A reader’s reminder of the goodness within us

Published 2:57 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

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I get a number of suggestions from readers regarding topics for a column. For that, I am grateful. I also get suggestions from some readers about what I can do with the column and where I can go while placing it where they suggest. For that, I will leave to your imagination.

A good example of how this particular column came to be was from an incident related to me by a good friend and loyal reader, Janice Carter of Atlanta. I found it worth passing along. It is a reminder that in spite of all the negativity we see and hear daily, there is a goodness among us that we tend to forget.

A few weeks ago as she was departing her bank, Ms. Carter happened up on an elderly woman sitting on the curb of a heavily traveled street in Atlanta and a big burly man towering over her. She immediately went to investigate and discovered that the woman had just been involved in a wreck. She had been injured, was bleeding and was going into shock. The man had physically carried her across the busy intersection from the wreck site and was administering aid.

What happened next is where the goodness comes in. Strangers came out of the bank and other locations, all seeking to help. To my knowledge, no one asked about stolen elections or the war in Ukraine or the border crisis or the economy. The elderly lady was everyone’s priority.

A well-dressed man leaving the bank offered his belt as a tourniquet. A delivery truck driver stopped to see what was happening and immediately retrieved her emergency medical kit from her vehicle to assist. That was a big assist. There was no question that the big guy was in charge and remained so until emergency responders arrived and transported the victim to the hospital. With that accomplished, all the strangers who had come together to provide aid and comfort dispersed and went their separate ways.

When everyone had left, Ms. Carter, the wife of a retired physician, walked over to the man and complimented him on his bravery in getting the elderly woman across the street amid heavy traffic and his leadership in directing others until the EMTs arrived. He looked at her and said simply, “Ma’am, I am a Marine.” ‘Nuff said.

For a brief moment, a group of strangers who I suspect may have had divergent views among themselves had they been in a different environment where politics, race or sexual orientation had been the topic, instead had one goal: Unite together to help someone in distress.

For some reason, Janice Carter’s story reminded me of a comment by our late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. I was at a small gathering with him when someone asked what would it take to unify our country, His answer? A disaster.

Never were we more united than after Sept. 11. I still recall the senators standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and singing “God Bless America,” scared out of their gourds. Today, that bunch in Washington can barely keep our government open or our borders closed for all the partisan infighting. Hopefully, it won’t take Chinese or Russian hackers taking down our power grid or Vladimir Putin invading Europe or that nutcase with the bad haircut in North Korea dropping a nuclear bomb or Arab terrorists blowing up another tall building to get us to understand we are not each other’s adversary, in spite of what political wingnuts and special interest groups promulgate.

I have little use for social media, and no use for those who use it anonymously and, particularly, for those who accept what they see or hear without checking its accuracy. In my opinion, much of social media is a clear and present danger to our society. It seeks to divide us rather than unite us.

Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of the advent of artificial intelligence except it seems to have the same capacity for creating good or evil.

Forgotten in all of this is that deep down we are decent people. 

We do a good job of volunteering, looking out for each other and coming together when we are needed in a crisis situation. This is who we really are when we choose to be.

I thank Janice Carter, the Marine, the delivery truck lady and the other generous souls who pitched in to help an unfortunate crash victim for reminding me of that fact. We all should.