Monday, May 22, 2017

Who cares

(the truck had already gone to the hard shoulder)

Spring 1915, at the front of the First World War near Nancy, France
“At midnight someone is knocking at the door ... It’s a soldier from the colonial troops who comes back from the trenches, wounded at his hand. He cannot find the aid station. Clavel asks the card players. They give only a vague indication. They don’t want to be disturbed. In the black night Clavel goes to look for it, together with the colonial soldier, walking in the rain and through the mud. ...
‘I am bleeding ..., I am bleeding’ the colonial soldier says.
At last after half an hour they find the aid post.
When Clavel comes back, the players don’t ask anything. They even don’t look up.”
From Léon Werth, Clavel Soldat (first edition 1919).

Spring 2017, on the motorway near Nancy, France
The truck moves to the left, comes on our lane and touches our car. Then suddenly another car appears in front of the truck and jumps on our lane. It’s impossible to avoid it. A crash. Our car comes to a standstill.
My wife and I remain sitting in our car for a few minutes. We see the driver of the other car getting out. We see the truck driver walking on the road. We ask each other whether we are all right. Happily we are. We sit there yet for a few moments. Then we get out, too. Nobody comes to help us and ask whether we are okay, although it is very busy on the highway. The drivers behind us must have turned their car and fled away. Who cares about an accident?
When the police arrives – a policeman and a policewoman – they immediately start to control the traffic and to move our car and the other cars to the hard shoulder. They don’t get the idea to ask whether we are okay and maybe need medical help. The first few minutes they even don’t talk to us...

A few years ago, on the motorway near my town, the Netherlands
Our car goes into a skid, overturns and lands on its wheels. Dizzy and in shock we are sitting there. We ask each other whether we are all right. Happily we are. A man runs to our car and asks whether we are okay. Two policeman – a policeman and a policewoman – who happen to pass by stop. While the one starts to control the traffic, the other one comes to us and asks several times whether she has to call an ambulance for us and warns us to see a doctor when we get pain in the back of the neck. Then she explains the further procedure to us.

Often we cannot help what happens to us but what we can help is how we get along with it. How one does is a matter of individual differences and a matter of education. It’s up to the reader to pass his or her judgment on the cases described above.


Jens Oliver Meiert said...

This can be felt here in Germany, too, not only when observing a particularly troubling problem around rubbernecking and actually hindering rescuers to get to accidents. At the moment I lump this all together under the most unfortunate and actively harmful world views that seem so common (we need philosophy more than ever), where the individual is the most important and must stand out and compete at all cost, but these first nuggets alone hint at the complexity of the issue.

My feeling, then, is that it’s more important than ever to lead by example—even when that becomes harder and harder. (And I feel once more reminded of the “dilemma of the kind person” [1] that I know is really an ancient one.)


Fasulye said...

Hi Henk,

I am shocked about the carelessness and neglection of the surrounding people, when you and your wife had the car accident. The police should have asked you whether you need medical help at first. The need for medical help is not always directly visible because you can have a shock caused by such an accident.

Kind regards,


HbdW said...

Hello Fasulye,
You are right. Happily in many other countries they DO take care of you.
Best wishes,

HbdW said...

Hello Jens Oiver,
Thank you for your comment. It's sad that people often hardly care about other people. Happily, I have also other experiences and I know also of other people who have positive experiences.
It happens here, too, sometimes that rescuers are hindered. I think that's it's related to the problem that he messenger is punished for the message. Happily, I know also of many positive experiences from people who are cared for. But that my wife and I weren't helped is for me the worst part of this accident, for in the end nobody was hurt. By giving attention to such problems now and then in my blogs I hope that contribute a little bit to make a change in this. And although I am not a good helper, I always try to do what I can in practice.
Thanks again for your comment.