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My Christian Savior

There’s the word world and the real world. I usually write about the former, but today I have to tell you about something that happened in the latter, which relates to our previous discussions of altruism and has left me a bit shaken.

Taking the train home last night, I look up from my laptop and realize we’re about to pull out of my station, Harriman. I slam the laptop shut and bolt for the door, yelling to the conductor in the next car—too late. The train rumbles forward, the conductor shrugs, says he's sorry, no train back to Harriman for three hours, no taxis at the next stop either.

“I can take you back to Harriman,” someone beside me says. He’s black, 50-ish, speaks with a French accent. We sit together for 15 minutes, get off at the next stop, his stop, then he drives me back to Harriman, another 20 minutes. No trouble, he insists, refusing money for gas. His name is Magoo, “like Mr. Magoo,” the old cartoon character. Born and raised in Ivory Coast, came to the U.S 20-some years ago, got a masters in chemistry from Syracuse, works for a cosmetics company. Wife and two teenage kids. He’s Christian. Father, a Protestant minister, and mother taught him to help others in need.

He didn’t risk his life, as the Subway Samaritan Wesley Autrey did. But I wouldn’t have done what Magoo did.



If you wouldn't have done it before, would you do it now that you are in a position to empathize with someone facing a similar situation?


There's always the possibility the he was just a nice guy - religion aside - and I'm pretty sure that if you'd revealed yourself to be a threat (consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, in those 15 minutes of conversation) that the offer may have evaporated - religion aside.

Personally, I don't know if I want to live in a world where everyone is a game theorist.. Seems like it would be awfully quiet and pretty lonely, as everyone did their personal best to depersonalize themselves.


Nah... "curiosity_driven" hit the nail on the head with their question. The selfish gene always comes into play in cases like this, with either a conscious or subconscious recognition of the fact that...

" There but for the grace of "god"/fate/chance/whatever.. go I "...

John to has now **learned** what that really means, and my money says that he cannot and will not deny that he'll at least think about it real hard if the opportunity ever presents itself to him...

mike cook

I attend a quasi-evangelical church regularly (even cutting into prime superbowl hoopla tomorrow, darn it!) so I hear a lot of stories about small acts of charity or thoughtfulness. We also have a fair number of Islamic people in our neighborhood now who do exactly the same kinds of things.

The story that most touched me was from a missionary who had returned from service in Haiti. He had happened to be there when the great Turkish earthquake killed several hundred thousand people a few years back. He was caught off guard, however, when his dirt poor Haitian congregation asked him why he wasn't collecting for relief to send to the Turkish people?

The missionary tried to hide his astonishment that these people expected him to collect money from them to send to someone else, but soon figured out that was exactly what they expected him to do. The charity did not exactly come in the form of money, but live chickens, which he then took to market in his car and converted to cash.

The haul ended up being something like $17.92 and it cost him $15 out of pocket to send the money order to a reputable relief agency.

I understood this because I grew up in a rural Montana environment where the homes we had to live in didn't always have indoor plumbing.
My parents weren't churchy at all, but they were extremely generous. The key here is that one may be living at or below an official poverty level, but you don't feel poor as long as you can help someone else. I can't emphasize how morally important that feeling is.

Of course, I have known lots of low-life people who would steal the groceries out of a blind man's cart and the money out of a Salvation Army kettle. Such people are not just poor, they are truly beyond redemption.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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