The Tone of Self-Sacrifice

You know the ABC television reality series, What Would You Do? well I’m not a big fan of the show.  It’s not that I dislike it; I don’t really.  It intrigues me on the one hand but troubles me on the other.  I mean, the premise is keen; prompting people to do the right thing, always, every day as ordinary, and extraordinary, circumstances dictate.  And we’ve seen some harrowing, albeit fabricated, situations unfold.  And I think that’s where my trouble lies.

That it forces people to consider whether their actions are proper or not is a good thing and God knows the world needs more of such prodding.  But manipulating the mind of society isn’t as easy as all that.  Who’s to say that people, watching it every week and knowing the show exists aren’t reacting a certain way when given the chance with expectations of being a star for a few seconds.  Keep in mind that everyone wants to be the good person who does the proper, Christian thing.

Except, when you start creating conditions solely for the camera, especially those that in real life could become extremely dangerous, I think ultimately you set people up to either fail or get hurt.  Who knows but that “escaped convict” you think might be part of the show and the one you’re getting ready to point out to police or attempt to apprehend yourself, just might be the real deal and before you can say Bob’s Your Uncle! you’re in a life-threatening situation up to your neck.

Doing what’s decent, without thought of reward, is a component missing in the show.  I’m happy to say though that such considerations aren’t non-existent today.  Anybody who knows me knows that I speak about police brutality.  I’m quick to point out what I think is wrong with law enforcement particularly the way they deal with African-Americans and the manner they “police” them.  And it would seem that these days, there’s not a whole lot of good to be said about any of them; at least, nothing good to be said that’s easily found highlighted by today’s media.  I’m happy to say that I found something earlier that gave me hope and made me want to share.

On Sunday in Ohio, a deputy sheriff arriving for work noticed what I’m sure he thought was not an unusual sight to see under the circumstances; a woman and her two children in the jail waiting room.  He probably saw the image as another fatherless family waiting to see a loved one; something very familiar.

All too familiar unfortunately: since 1991, the number of children with a father in prison has grown by 79%.  And today in America, 2.7million children have at least one parent in jail and 92% of those parents in prison are fathers.

Later on that day, Deputy Brian Russell, a 25-year veteran of the force, again saw the woman still there in the waiting room, her children now asleep.  He approached and asked if he could be of assistance.  That’s when he discovered that the family was homeless.

Infographic: Fathers Behind Bars

Long story short, the deputy tried to get them into a shelter, no easy task even for a single parent family on short notice but was unable to.  So he came out of pocket for a ten day stay in a hotel room.  He also took them to Wal-Mart and bought the kids clothes and shoes.  But that’s not what makes this story so worthwhile.

Afterwards by all accounts, Russell went about his business as usual.  The deeds only became known by his peers and the public after the woman posted a photo of all of them on Facebook.  And that folks is something to celebrate.  Since then, he’s been praised by Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones.

Nowadays, peoples’ intentions aren’t always as clear as they seem to be.  In this media-celebrity driven world we live in, everyone seems to be vying for their own 15 minutes worth and sometimes, such dramas play out on the backs on someone else’s suffering.

It’s refreshing to see a person helping his fellowman without concern of reward, even if such reward is simply a bunch of ‘likes’ on social media.  It’s doubly so to see it happen at the hands of a member of law enforcement.  Such compassion shows that, at least to more than we think or realize, African-Americans are human after all, worthy of compassion and assistance and not simply the criminal thugs that many think cops see us as.

It’s a deed that highlights our shared humanity and exemplifies the belief that says; there, but for the grace of God, go I.  Such a sentiment keeps us all in check with regard to how we treat each other, knowing that what’s befallen one can happen to any of us at any given time.  It’s a lesson in humility and one that we can’t readily put a price tag on.

Fatherlessness facts from The National Fatherhood Initiative

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