Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hypocrisy Unchained

The other day, I was in the car with Son. The battery in GPop's car had died, because someone left a door open all weekend, and we were driving around the block to recharge the battery so GPop could go to work the next day in our fuel-efficient compact car instead of our not-so-efficient emergency backup pickup truck. At one point, I darned some idiot driver to heck for stupidity, and it must've sparked a thought in Son's head. He asked me, "If you saw a drunk hobo in the road in the middle of the night, and he was waving his arms for help, would you help him or would you run him over?"

"WHAT?" I shrieked. "That's the most awful thing I've ever heard! Why on earth would you even ask such a thing? Of course I'd stop to help."

"Even if he looked really scary?" Son inquired.

"Of course! That's what decent people do. Even if I wasn't able to help, I'd still try to figure out a way to get help to him. Why would you even think not to help?"

Son answered, very matter-of-factly, "Because Fatina once told me that she'd run over anyone like that instead of risk getting shot." I rarely talk about Son's background on this blog, because it's really not my place to share his life before we became a family. If he chooses to put that on his blog, that's all fine and good. However, this remark needs some clarification. Son spent most of his elementary school years in foster care. One of the families with which he lived was Fatina's family. She and her family were the back-woods, conservative church-going, small-town-living, limited world-view, "Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet.", no-queers-allowed sort of people. Son and Son's Older Brother regularly reminisce about the time spent in that home with a mixture of anger, sadness, and relief. All that being said, she did open her home to take in seven kids into foster care. I won't go into the canard of "she just did it for the money," because a) I don't pretend to know her thoughts, and b) I don't buy into that concept that foster parents regularly do it for the money. The money's not that good, and the oversight is, in theory and in the absence of significant budget cuts, pretty rigorous.

My reply, in my surprise and anger, was something like, "Well, Fatina must be an awful person." Then I thought about it some more, and asked, "Why would she have said something like that?"

Son told me that Fatina said that it was dangerous to help people in the middle of the night, and that she'd have run over anyone who looked suspicious rather than risk her life trying to help someone. He then said, "So you'd risk your life to help someone?"

"Of course. I've done it before at least once*, and I'd do it again. Even if Fatina was afraid of the man, she could yell out the window that she was calling for help, then call 911 on her cell phone. Running someone over is NOT an option. I'm not mad at you, buddy, but I'm just flabbergasted that an adult would say such a thing. Plus, I hardly think that helping a stranded motorist counts as risking my life. By that logic, any exposure to the public counts as risky. But then, I'm a large man, and by all accounts, she was a short woman with health issues. That still doesn't excuse her judgment."

"Yeah. She was kind of like that."

*When I was in my early to mid teens, my family went on vacation to someplace that had a beach on a big lake. I was swimming in water just over my head, and I noticed a kid very obviously struggling to the point of being in danger of drowning. Since I was the only person anywhere close to the kid, I swam over (against all recommendations of the swimming guidelines), grabbed him, and got to the place where I could stand on the bottom. I had the kid get on my back, piggy-back style, and I walked the kid into the shallow water. He ran off to join his family. I went back out into the water.


Mandy said...

Just something to add to that, and make you think. Would you do that with Son in the car, or would you advise that when Son is 16 and starts driving that he do that? I'm not advocating for one side or the other, just throwing it out there for thinking. I like thinking.

Jen said...

I have always either stopped or called for help if I couldn't stop. I had a similar conversation with my son. He is your size so fear never entered his mind. He was surprised that I would stop given my size and lesser upper body strength. I'm a mom I can do anything and I have no fear, unless its regarding one of my kids and then I am terrified, but not paralyzed. Because of his size I have sent him out to help strangers push their cars out of the snow numerous times. Not the same situation but still helping.

I believe he would help anyone in need, I hope I have instilled that in him. However I wonder sometimes when I am struggling to get groceries, dogs and young child out of the car and he just walks in the house empty handed.