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I'm sure plenty of Perry Countians were among the millions of Americans glued to their television screens earlier this month as a silver balloon, thought to be carrying 6-year-old Falcon Heene, floated through the sunny Colorado sky.
As we all know now, the elf-sized boy was never aboard and it's likely, authorities tell us, that the drama was all a stunt for fame-starved parents. If so, Richard Heene needs to set off in a balloon of his own, en route to prison, joined by his wife if she knew about the stunt.
But what struck me about the story wasn't a boy thought to be aloft in the heavens, but the rest of us who watched and cared.
Despite all the signs that point to a coarsening of respect toward life, abortion, doctor-assisted suicide and millions who suffer without health insurance, Americans still care for one another. The attention drawn to stories like Falcon Heene remind us that our hearts are still soft in places.
Sadly, events here at home show us that we aren't always willing to step up to the plate to help others.
Imagine you're heading to work some morning and you come across an overturned car or truck. You don't see anyone around and aren't sure if anyone is trapped inside.
Do you stop? Or do you reach for the cell phone, call police and continue on your way? Too many people are doing the latter. I don't think it's that people don't care but that they're afraid to get involved in someone else's misfortune. Anyone with a police scanner knows many people who happen across crashes and sometimes even fires don't stop to offer assistance or check on people who may be hurt.
These drivers may have very legitimate reasons for not stopping. Perhaps the person discovering the accident was alone or had children in the car. But sometimes there is no excuse for not getting involved.
That's unfortunate in a small community, considering accidents often involve someone we know. A person coming across an accident who has a cell phone can relay vital information to dispatchers. If the person is trapped, rescue crews can be sent. If there is the smell of gasoline, fire departments will be dispatched. The list goes on.
Without any of this information, the dispatcher at the other end of the line won't know anything until an ambulance or first responder arrives. Those minutes can spell the difference between life and death.
I'm not advocating anyone put themselves at undue risk, but to consider responding when called on in times of need. Sometimes we have to act.
If a lost balloon thought to be carrying a small boy landed in our yard, wouldn't we check inside and offer what aid we could? I suspect we all would. I think we owe the same courtesy to everyone here in our own community.