Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homeless Man Left To Die On NY Street

Perhaps you've already seen the headline in some form or another: Homeless Good Samaritan Left To Die on a NYC Street.  A 31 year old Guatemalan homeless man heard the cries of a young woman being assaulted near 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York.  Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax came to her rescue but ended up being stabbed while attempting to be a Good Samaritan.  The attacker and his victim fled the scene.

Tale-Yax laid on the sidewalk while a pool of blood formed beneath his body.  He lay on the cement for an hour as a surveillance camera captured video of at least seven people who walked by and did nothing except gawk.  One person even lifted the body, noticed the blood underneath Tale-Yax, and walked away.

Hugo Tale-Yax died that morning. The couple who had been arguing, according what could be pieced together from the surveillance tape, are nowhere to be found.

This is not the first time such indifference to the sufferings of another human has been reported. Twenty years ago a Central Park jogger, Trisha Meili, was brutally raped by five men as bystanders heard her cries for help and ignored them.

How can we turn a deaf ear to the cries of another person who seeks our help?  One New Yorker explained that the city of full of drunk individuals lying on the sidewalks asleep in a stupor.  The people who walked by may have thought Tale-Yax was intoxicated and did not want to deal with him.  Understandable.  Yet there have been times when I've noticed a man or woman passed out on a sidewalk, and I still would gently nudge them to see if they were alive or needed emergency medical services.

Others simply do not want to take the time to get involved in the misery of another person.  In other words, it would have been a chore to call 9-1-1 or have to wait for the paramedics while assuring the victim help is on the way.

One TV commentator noted that some people who walked by Tale-Yax were on their cellphones and hardly noticed the dying man.  Here are humans communicating with one another using a wireless device with the potential to save another person's life and instead, they value their phone conversation over and above a person's life.

Aside from the selfishness of our hearts, I cannot come up with any explanation of this travesty.  I too have probably passed by many opportunities to help another person, but I drove or walked by instead.  If we are honest about the human heart, we're all not so great.  Sure, there are countless stories of people who perform "heroic deeds."  But is it that heroic to put another person's life before your own?  Is it that courageous to get off a cell phone call in order to deal the emergency operator?  I would think this would be a natural action we'd want anyone to do for us if we were in need.

It was Tale-Yax who showed courage by intervening to protect a woman in apparent need.  Would any man do that? What if the boyfriend or attacker had a gun or a knife?  Even so, a phone call can still be made; a threat to the attacker can still be shouted out and potential harm to a victim can still be avoided.

The death of this homeless man makes us all think how self-centered we can be.   In the name of self-protection and the refusal to make any sacrifice for another human or even our own country, we've witnessed several generations of men who have never donned a military uniform to defend our country. Instead, we have chosen to walk by people and nations in need of our help while we carry on our lives uninterrupted and display our bumper stickers that declare "War Is Not The Answer."  Guess what?  Indifference is not the answer either.

Do you agree or disagree?

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