Has our society lost its compassion?

Ian Jacques/Editor / Staff writer
January 18, 2013 01:00 AM

The common dictionary definition of compassion is a "deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it."

This definition has me thinking a lot about the society we live in. Some horrible examples of a lack of compassion in recent days have me wondering what is going on in some people's heads.

I was watching Global News on Thursday, Jan. 10, when a story came on that broke my heart.

A woman in her 60s, a grandmother, got off a BC Transit bus in the morning hours and started jogging a bit to get to her job, when she slipped and fell on some uneven pavement. In the process of the fall, she smacked her head on the pavement, leaving her forehead bleeding from a deep gash. She also injured her shoulder and was left lying on the ground, helpless and incapacitated.

She was crying out for help, yet several people literally walked over her and past her on their way to work or wherever they were headed that day. Finally, after who knows how long, the woman managed to conjure up enough strength to reach into her pocket, get out her cell phone and dial 911 to get some help.

Two women did happen by while paramedics were en route and offered some assistance.

But why did so many other people walk right on by? Why did they not offer some help?

Move a little closer to home here on the Coast. Last week, reporter Christine Wood wrote about a dog attack in Kinnikinnick Park that left a five-year-old Pomeranian dead and its owner struggling for answers after the owner of the alleged attacking dog walked away from the scene without offering any assistance.

The incident has sparked considerable debate on our letters page and our on-line commenting forum. Many dog owners are outraged by the attack, and even more outraged that the owner just walked away. Where was the compassion there?

In this week's Sunshine Coast RCMP report, police are investigating a hit and run accident in Gibsons. The driver involved swerved to try to avoid a pedestrian, but still clipped the victim. Instead of stopping and doing the responsible and compassionate thing, he just kept on driving. Police are investigating and trying to locate the driver to ask him why.

And on Tuesday morning, I received a call from a local man who had quite the story to tell about his son, who came upon an accident scene early Monday morning in Gibsons.

This young man, on his way to work, pulled over to offer assistance to a woman who was involved in a single-vehicle accident when she hit a patch of ice that sent her vehicle spinning. The truck rolled over and ended up in the ditch.

From what I have been told, the woman was trapped for a long period of time. While pinned in her truck, she was honking her horn and yelling for someone to stop. Someone finally did - this young man. He helped her out and stayed with her until the fire department and paramedics arrived.

The son of the injured woman paid a visit to our office on Wednesday recounting his mother's ordeal. He would love to find out who this young man is and thank him for stopping. We will be trying to track down this story further next week.

This young man showed some compassion. He helped out when who knows how many drivers just kept on going, oblivious to the accident.

So what's my point in all this? I'm wondering if we as a society are so consumed with our own personal daily lives that we have lost the ability to help others. How does a person who sees someone hurt and crying for help on a sidewalk just walk right on by? How do people not stop to offer assistance to a woman lying in the ditch after an accident? I thought we lived in a society where, if possible, we would help others. That's the nature of being a good person, being a good and compassionate citizen. This is what I was taught by my parents, and I know I would lend a hand if I could.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that these are isolated incidents. I hope there is still some compassion out there.


© Coast Reporter

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