I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), Taken
The movies have let us vicariously live out our hero fantasies where we head out and defend our family’s honor, rescue the damsel in distress, or protect our country. We find ourselves reflected on screen every time the hero, an average guy with above average virtues and skills, takes on overwhelming odds and ends up proving that a good guy with determination can stop the evils of the world. Or at least we want to think we are reflected onscreen. But is that the hero we will have the chance to be? Or will we be given a chance to be another kind of hero?
The reality is that it’s highly improbable that we will be forced to fend off foreign nationals from taking over our favorite coffee shop, stop that overly elaborate plan by criminal masterminds to steal your friend’s purse, or even stop that armed intruder from breaking into your home. I am not saying that you won’t be given that opportunity, but are you doing good? Or are you simply stopping bad?
I am not saying that you shouldn’t stop the bad elements of society, but the amount of effort we take into preparing to handle evil isn’t close to comparable to the amount of effort we take into preparing to dish out good. You will probably have a chance to do those more often than you will to stop evil.
But training to do good? Isn’t doing simply doing good? Yes it is, but some good requires some knowledge.
Do you know what to do in case someone falls and twists their ankle or breaks a bone? Sharing dinner with someone who’s suddenly choking? Someone having a stroke or a heart attack? Could you even identify when it happens? Could you identify when someone is drowning if you saw them? Do you know how to make a tourniquet or give CPR? You would be surprised how those first couple of minutes might completely change a situation.
Let’s be more practical yet, do you know what to do in case you run into someone whose car battery died? Who accidentally locked in their pet or, worse yet, their child, in their car? Even something as simple as change a tire? Do you know how to help parent trying to deal with their child having a meltdown? Do you even know what a meltdown is?
In a world of 911’s and roadside assistance, we have forgotten some of the basic skills needed to survive a chaotic world. With the world’s knowledge in our fingertips, we assume that we will have time to Google up whatever information we need. That’s not always possible, be it because time is off the essence or because your adrenaline is running too high to try to type.
We, as men, also assume that things are as easy as they look in the movies, that we instinctively know how to use a car jack or jumper cables. We assume that our inner action hero will automatically kick in and we will instinctively keep our cool. You would think that by know you knew that “assuming” is never the same as knowing.
Ironically, in a world where women have chosen to challenge the gender stereotypes, plenty of women have actually learned how to jump-start a car or change a tire. Yet it’s this same challenge to gender stereotypes that have lead plenty of men to never learn, ending up in a situation where it’s the lady saving them.
Before you start whining about how you were never taught these things, keep in mind that you have the world at your fingertips. Do you have the nearest hospital’s emergency number in your phone? Do you have the nearest police station? Between “Fail” or Cat Videos, have you taken the time to at least view a basic CPR tutorial? Most community centers actually offer basic first aid and CPR classes, either free or at a very low cost. Most have pamphlets to inform and educate the public about how to help those who need help, especially those whose “issues” aren’t as evident. This not only keeps you from being another inconsiderate asshole, but actually helps them deal with a selfish society that usually ignores them, and so often abuses them. It might be a good idea to read these over instead of reading over the latest reality TV gossip.
You have the opportunity to be a hero every day. You will be placed in situations where what you think is a simple act, will mean the world to the other person. You will be constantly be given the opportunity to prove what kind of a person you are. The reality is that being a good is pretty easy when you are actually ready to do good.