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THIS IS AMERICA - What It Means to Be a Good Samaritan

Written by Kelly Nuxoll -- Monday, November 21, 2011 -- Views:

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A relative of a man killed in a hit-and-run accident holds a board offering a reward to witnesses, at the accident site in Beijing Wednesday Oct. 18, 2006.
A relative of a man killed in a hit-and-run accident holds a board offering a reward to witnesses, at the accident site in Beijing Wednesday Oct. 18, 2006.

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

FAITH LAPIDUS: And I'm Faith Lapidus. Someone who stops to help a stranger is known as a good Samaritan. This week on our program, we talk about good Samaritans and what laws and science say about them.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: The term "good Samaritan" comes from a story in the Christian bible. We asked a local minister here in Washington to tell us the story.

AARON GRAHAM: "I'm Aaron Graham, lead pastor of the District Church in Washington, DC."

He says in the Gospel of Luke, a legal expert asks Jesus what it means to love your neighbor.

AARON GRAHAM: "Rather than Jesus giving him a lecture in who his neighbor is, he actually tells a story about a Jewish guy who's on his way up to Jericho from Jerusalem who gets beat up and robbed."

The injured man is lying by the side of the road. Two people walk by. They do not stop to help him. In fact, they walk on the other side of the road to avoid him. Finally, someone from Samaria -- a Samaritan -- comes along.

AARON GRAHAM: "The Samaritan cares for this Jewish guy, he bandages his wounds, he takes him to the inn, and then he even foots the bill for him."

Reverend Graham points out that the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies at that time. But that did not stop the "Good Samaritan" from helping the injured man.

This idea of helping anyone who needs help is common among cultures and religions.

AARON GRAHAM: "This is a familiar story even beyond the Christian community. One of the things that unites many faiths is this call to love our neighbor. "

FAITH LAPIDUS: Helping others may be a religious duty. But some current research suggests that humans may also have a biological urge, an impulse, to help each other.

Robert Sussman and Robert Cloninger are professors at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri. They worked together on a new book about working together. The book is called "Origins of Altruism and Cooperation." It brings together work by researchers who study crime, brains, genes, history and other subjects.

Bob Sussman is an anthropologist. Robert Cloninger is a professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine. Dr. Cloninger says social animals, including humans, need to cooperate to survive.

ROBERT CLONINGER: "The need to be a social animal was probably a response to people not being safe just living -- functioning in a solitary way. If they're out in the open field in the bright sunlight they're easily spotted, but in groups they're safer."

ROBERT SUSSMAN: "We think cooperation is the core of social living animals, whereas most people who talk about cooperation think it's a by-product of competition."

In other words, in their view, humans first had to learn to cooperate in order to live in groups. Dr. Cloninger suggests that, as a result, people became more intelligent.

This intelligence, he says, helped early people act in a way that was good not just for themselves but also for other people.

STEVE EMBER: The desire to help others can take many forms, including charitable giving.

Aaron Graham told us what his church did on September eleventh to mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Most of the members are young people seeking experience by working for free in Washington. That Sunday they collected money to help people suffering from the famine in parts of Somalia.

AARON GRAHAM: "I was hoping we could raise a couple thousand dollars. But people gave so generously. They gave fifteen thousand dollars on that Sunday morning."

Charitable giving in the United States last year totaled about two hundred ninety billion dollars. That was up from two hundred eighty billion the year before. Contributions dropped in two thousand nine and two thousand eight as a result of the Great Recession.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: Giving money to a charity could be seen as one way of choosing to be a good Samaritan. But some American states have laws that require people to help in certain situations.

John Mikhail is a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington. He says there are two kinds of so-called good Samaritan laws. These are different from rules requiring teachers, for example, to report child abuse.

One type of good Samaritan law establishes a duty to rescue. This kind of law says people must rescue a stranger who needs help, if it is easy to do so. For instance, a person might have a duty to call out to someone who is about to step into the street and get hit by a car.

Professor Mikhail says the punishment for failing to rescue might be a fine or perhaps jail time. But few states have such laws, he says, pointing out that this kind of law raises questions.

JOHN MIKHAIL: "How much aid are you supposed to render someone who's in need? Why doesn't that apply to the easy case of sending fifty dollars to Oxfam to save a life around the world, or at least someone here at home who's starving and who could easily have harm prevented by your small effort?"

The second type of good Samaritan law protects people who choose to help others.

JOHN MIKHAIL: "Imagine the situation of a doctor on an airplane, or someone calls for a doctor. One type of law that's been pretty sensibly passed is a law that would protect the doctor who offers help in that kind of situation from lawsuits, unless they are grossly negligent."

All fifty states have some kind of law that protects good Samaritans in a medical emergency. In July, New York became the latest state to pass a law protecting people who call for help when someone has a drug overdose.

In these cases, the witnesses may not want to call emergency services because they are afraid of getting arrested for having drugs. But New York and a few other states have decided that people who act as good Samaritans in these situations should not have to worry about getting arrested.

STEVE EMBER: Professor Mikhail says good Samaritan laws protect the intuition, the natural sense, that people have to help others in need.

JOHN MIKHAIL: "Couple interesting points about this. One is that the intuition is shared even by young children. And the second is that the intuition is shared across the world."

And he should know. John Mikhail is the author of a new book called "Elements of Moral Cognition." It describes experiments in which he and his colleagues asked people about situations where someone needed help. Professor Mikhail says everyone, no matter what country they were from, expressed a willingness to intervene.

Yet last month there was the story of a two-year-old girl in southern China who was hit by a truck at a street market. Security cameras showed that for seven minutes, no one stopped to help. Then another truck hit her. Finally, a stranger pulled the child to the side of the road. Wang Yue died in a hospital more than a week later.

Her tragic story led to debate and discussion in China and elsewhere about what it means to be a good Samaritan.

FAITH LAPIDUS: So why don't people always help? Social scientists have spent years studying what they call the bystander effect. This involves the social influences that make groups of people less likely to help as they witness a troubling situation.

But Robert Cloninger, the psychiatrist, says that among individuals, there are many reasons why people may decide not to act. They might feel afraid they are going to get hurt themselves. They might have had bad experiences in the past. Or they might not get pleasure out of being kind to others.

ROBERT CLONINGER: "If someone is repeatedly abused and neglected, they may form abnormal connections with what's rewarding. Some anti-social people actually become sadistic because of these traumatic past experiences. But that's an abnormal state of the brain."

Robert Sussman, the anthropologist, studies apes and other non-human primates as well as humans. He says there is another reason people might not help.

ROBERT SUSSMAN: "Humans have this thing when they think they're going to be sued. Many of the primates who live in social groups will automatically help in those situations, because they don't have all of these things that they've learned that they could be punished for doing that."

So what is the solution if fear of getting sued might stop someone from helping? Some activists call for more good Samaritan laws to protect people from lawsuits. But Sheldon Richman has another suggestion. Mr. Richman edits a journal, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, that teaches the principles of the free market. He says the solution is to change the system of civil law to not make it so easy to sue other people.

In this photo taken on on Aug. 23, 2009, Emory University freshmen Brian Oliver, left, and Andre Lumpkin learn basic CPR techniques along with more than a 1,000 other classmates during a mass training
In this photo taken on on Aug. 23, 2009, Emory University freshmen Brian Oliver, left, and Andre Lumpkin learn basic CPR techniques along with more than a 1,000 other classmates during a mass training

STEVE EMBER: Kristin Schroeder says she did not think about laws or lawsuits the day a woman collapsed at work.

KRISTIN SCHROEDER: "The ideas of laws just don't even go through my head in a situation like that. What's going through my head is, I want to help this person."

The woman was in her mid-twenties. She had suffered cardiac arrest -- her heart had suddenly stopped beating.

Ms. Schroeder did CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to keep blood moving through the woman's body until emergency help came. The woman survived, thanks to the CPR.

Kristin Schroeder says she thinks laws that protect good Samaritans make sense. But more important, she says, is education.

KRISTIN SCHROEDER: "You can't fault someone for trying to help. It would be great to educate people with CPR in masses, so that people feel more confident to act."

Those who might like to be good Samaritans should know that new guidelines say bystanders should use the "hands-only" method of CPR. Hands-only CPR means chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breathing. To watch a demonstration, go to www.unsv.com for a link to an American Heart Association video.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: Our program was written by Kelly Nuxoll and produced by Brianna Blake. I'm Faith Lapidus.

STEVE EMBER: And I'm Steve Ember. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs at www.unsv.com. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Reader's Comments (1):
Author: mendycheese
I think it is very good to learn this every day. It will help me with my English study.
Author: Issac Luo
STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.欢迎收听《美国之声<特别英语>>>.我是史蒂夫。恩博。FAITH LAPIDUS: And I'm Faith Lapidus. Someone who stops to help a stranger is known as a good Samaritan. This week on our program, we talk about good Samaritans and what laws and science say about them.我是费思.拉普蒂丝。那些停下来帮助陌生人的人被称作好心的撒马利亚人。在我们这周的节目中,我们将聊一聊那些好心的撒马利亚人以及和他们相关的发律及科学。
Author: Issac Luo
The term "good Samaritan" comes from a story in the Christian bible. We asked a local minister here in Washington to tell us the story.“好心的撒玛利亚人”这个词来源于基督教《圣经》里的一个故事。我们让华盛顿一个当地的牧师告诉我们这个故事。AARON GRAHAM: "I'm Aaron Graham, lead pastor of the District Church in Washington, DC."我是Aaron Graham,是华盛顿特区的地区主要的牧师。He says in the Gospel of Luke, a legal expert asks Jesus what it means to love your neighbor.他说,在《路加福音》中,一个法学专家问耶稣,“爱你的邻居是什么意思”。
Author: Issac Luo
"Rather than Jesus giving him a lecture in who his neighbor is, he actually tells a story about a Jewish guy who's on way up to Jericho from Jerusalem who gets beat up and robbed."耶稣没有就谁是他的邻居说教,但给他讲了一个有关一个犹太人的故事。这个犹太人是从耶路撒冷到杰里科取得,在途中遭到了欺负和抢劫。The injured man is lying by the side of the road. Two people walk by. They do not stop to help him. In fact, they walk on the other side of the road to avoid him. Finally, someone from Samaria -- a Samaritan -- comes along
Author: Issac Luo
.那个受伤的人躺在路边。这时有两个人路过,他们非但没有停下来帮他,竟然为了避开他儿走马路的另一边。最后一个来自撒玛利亚的人——一个撒玛利亚人——走过来了。"The Samaritan cares for this Jewish guy, he bandages his wounds, he takes him to the inn, and then he even foots the bill for him."这个撒玛利亚人很关心那位受伤的犹太人,帮他包扎伤口,带他到客栈,甚至还为他付了账单。Reverend Graham points out that the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies at that time. But that did not stop the "Good Samaritan" from helping the injured man.Reverend Graham 说道当时撒玛利亚人和语态人正处于敌对期。尽管如此,这没有组织那个“好心的撒玛利亚人”帮助哪位受伤的人。
Author: Issac Luo
在不同文化和宗教中,帮助任何需要帮助的人都是共通的。不仅仅是信仰基督教的人对这个故事熟悉。要爱我们的邻居这个号召把不同的信仰连接了起来。帮助他人可能是某一个宗教要求的责任,但现在有些研究也指出我们帮助他人是出于我们生理的需求和冲动。Robert Sussman 和 Robert Cloninger 是圣。路易斯华盛顿大学的教授。他们联合出了一本新书——《利他主义与合作的起源》。这本书里综合了有关犯罪、大脑、基因、历史级其他反面的研究。Bob Sussman 是一位人类学家。。Robert Cloninger ,医学院的一位精神病学教授,说社会性的动物,包括人类,需要合作以求生存。出于人们对单独生存不安全的考虑,所以可能就有了群居的需求。如果他们在大白天处在空旷的地方的话,他们很容易被发现,但是如果他们在人群中的话,他们会感到更安全。我们认为合作是群居动物的核心不服,但是大多数人认为合作是竞争的副产品。
Author: Issac Luo
换句话说,在他们看来,人类为了能在群体中生存,他们必须首先学会合作。因此,Dr. Cloninger 指出人类才更聪明了。他说到这种智慧帮助早期的人们用一种利人利己的方式做事。帮助别人有很多种方式,其中包括了慈善募捐。Aaron Graham 告诉我们为了在九月十一日这天纪念9.11事件十周年他们教堂做了什么。很多寻求经验的年轻成员在华盛顿做义工,那个星期天他们为了帮助那些在索马里部分地区遭受饥荒的人们而募捐。
Author: Issac Luo
我本想能募捐到2000美元,但是人们都慷慨解囊,在那星期天上午,他们就捐出了15000美元。美国去年慈善募捐款累计大约有290亿美元。比前一年的280亿还多。因为经济危机,2008和2009年的数字下降了些。
Author: Vivian Gu
Issac Luo: thank you for your interpretation whicl helping me to understood well.
Author: Juniorky
not bad
Author: Issac Luo
捐钱做慈善是做一个好心的撒玛利亚人的一种方式。但是美国有些州的法律要求人们在某些情况下向别人提供帮助。John Mikhail 是一位乔治。敦大学的法学教授。他说美国有两类所谓的好撒玛利亚人法。它们的规定各有不同,比如说,就有规定教师要报告滥用童工的情况。其中有一种好撒玛利亚人法就有救助别人的规定。这种法律规定在容易的情况下,人们必须救助需要帮助的陌生人。例如,如果某人过马路并且有可能被车撞到的话,人们有义务叫住那个人。Mikhail 教授说如果在场的人们没有尽到这种义务的话,他有可能会被罚款甚至可能会被拘留。但同时他指出因为这种法律会带来一些问题,所以美国很少的州才有这样的法律。
Author: Issac Luo
我们应该帮那些有需要的人道何种程度呢?为什么不干脆向乐施会捐50美元来救一个人或者那些因为我们小小帮助而能免于受苦的国内忍饥挨饿的人呢?那些选择帮助别人的人能得到第二种好撒玛利亚人法的帮助。JOHN MIKHAIL: "Imagine the situation of a doctor on an airplane, or someone calls for a doctor. One type of law that's been pretty sensibly passed is a law that would protect the doctor who offers help in that kind of situation from lawsuits, unless they are grossly negligent."想象一下飞机上有一名医生或者有人叫来医生。如果医生不是非常视而不见的话,这种人性化的法律能保护当事医生免于被起诉。
Author: Issac Luo
I am very glad that what I've done can ,to some extent, help others.And I'm looking foward to communicating and changing ideas with you guys about learning English.Best wishes.
Author: leehombeauty
learn more from it
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