As cynical and pessimistic as I often am about my country and the state of things in general, I also am sometimes wonderfully surprised. In my last post, I mentioned how impressed I was – moved is perhaps a better word – by the fact that in the instant after the first bomb went off in Boston, while half the people on the scene ran for safety, half threw their own safety to the wind and ran into the danger to help. People who likely had no idea what they were doing waded into the blood of others, took off belts and shirts, fashioned tourniquets, gave aid and comfort, and no doubt saved many lives.
This week, we got another shining example. It was this guy:
Charles Ramsey is the neighbor who heard one of the women call for help, kicked in the door and. . .helped. He is uneducated, washes dishes for a living – however scant a living it may be – and doesn’t have two nickels to rub together. Given his 15 minutes of fame and the probable opportunity to promote himself, he didn’t. When interviewed about his actions, here is what he said:
- I’m not a hero. I did what anyone else would have done.
- I can’t sleep at night now that I know those women were right across the street all that time and I didn’t do anything about it.
- Don’t give me a reward. Give the money to the women to help them recover. They need it more than I do.
This is the best of who we are – as Americans and perhaps simply as people. The humility Mr. Ramsey displayed makes him a hero in my book.
The older I get, the more important I think humility is. It comes from a deep and abiding belief that you might possibly be wrong, that other people are more important than you are, that part of what makes you special is the very fact that everyone else is every bit as special as you are, and maybe even a wee bit more. There is no such thing as too much of it.
I would like to think that had I been in Mr. Ramsey’s his shoes, I would have done what he did and said what he said, just as I would hope that had I been in Boston, I would have been one of those who ran into the danger. I don’t know and never will, unless I have the misfortune to find myself in a situation like that one day. I also hope that when the time comes for someone to write my epitaph, first that someone will, and second that the word ‘humble’ will be in it. It seems to me to be the highest of aspirations.
I wish my handful of loyal readers a happy – and humble – weekend.