Too many of us have lost the necessary compassion to help people we don’t know.
MOST of us would never hesitate to reach out to our family members, friends, colleagues or to anyone we know when they need help. But we refrain ourselves from helping random people who are in need.
When there is an accident along the highway, we slow down to check it out, maybe even take photos and post them on social networks. But our conscience is so numb that we will not stop to check if the injured needs help.
That is not true for everyone but this has been circling in my mind of late.
In fact, a fortnight ago, it was brought home when I was left with no one to turn to except my wife, family and friends.
I met with an accident on Sept 21 along the motorbike lane of the Shah Alam expressway (KESAS) while heading to work. A small branch fell on me as I was taking a sharp bend.
I panicked and jumped off the motorbike, landing chin first onto the tarred road. Bleeding from my face and hands, I desperately attempted to flag down two motorcyclists for help but failed.
When I got to the toll office, which was located just several metres away from where the accident took place, there were people at the parking bay but no one bothered to offer any help.
Even the lady at the tollbooth, whom I managed to speak to, said, “Panggil Ronda dan tunggu dekat parking area (Call the highway patrol and wait at the parking area)”.
Instead of calling up the highway patrol, I called up my wife whom I was certain would come get me.
As I waited, I sat by the kerb trying to stop the blood oozing from my mouth and palm. A man, whom I presume was working as a cleaner at the toll’s office, walked up to me and started a conversation about motorbike accidents and spoke a little about first aid.
And he, as well, did not offer to drive me to hospital or call for help. Minutes later, my wife arrived and rushed me to a hospital where I was treated for a fractured jaw.
While sat the hospital, a close friend told me that his friend, on a motorbike too, had been a victim of a hit-and-run incident in Petaling Jaya a day before. His friend lost consciousness and had been lying on the road the whole day before someone finally noticed and sent him to hospital.
It seems to me that the country and this world have evolved to a whole new level but people’s mindsets have gone backward with no sense of community and compassion. The human race may have strong and healthy bodies but there is something disfigured about the heart.
For instance, in my case, are the tollbooth operators, who were well trained at doing what they do, not knowledgeable enough to handle an accident scenario?
In fact, it does not even take much to act on such a situation if one has the will to help.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly called for government departments, agencies and government-linked companies to improve in the service sector.
“Smiley face” badges are often worn by staff at most government departments and even at several private companies, reminding them to smile and treat their customers with care but it seems like we Malaysians tend to forget this once we leave work.
Even basic politeness seems to have gone out the window. Saying things like “thank you”, offering our seats to the elderly or disabled and giving way on the road seem to be things of the past.
I have only managed to help one accident victim to date, but I think is a necessary empathy and act of humanity for us to help accident victims we don’t know.
Failing to practise these basis deeds only shows the ignorance in oneself.
The culture of causing traffic jams in the name of witnessing an accident must stop.
If you are not helping the victim(s), you are definitely doing no good by just looking. Most of us Malaysians are cultured people and it should not be difficult to apply what has been taught to us since young.
American author Leo Buscaglia once quoted, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”.
We should not expect anything in return for reaching out to someone in need. Imagine saving the life of someone who means the whole world to someone else.
Would that not be something?
> A. Ruban wishes for all Malaysians to reach out to one another without hesitation. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own