Good Samaritan Society

Oct 25, 2016, 09:00 am

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Written by veteran flight attendant and writer Ji Byung-lim

Not long ago, passengers abandoned their taxi driver having a heart attack in the middle of driving them to Seoul. Although the driver had difficulty breathing and chest pains, the passengers just grabbed their luggage and left without offering any help to the unconscious man. The driver was belatedly transferred to the hospital but it was already too late to save him. A similar thing happened already this year. The incident made Korean society reflect on itself, eventually allowing "Good Samaritan law" officially being submitted to the National Assembly.

Good Samaritan law, which takes its name from a story in the Bible, requires that onlookers lend aid to victims in peril and holds those who fail to do so liable. By then, Samaritans were despised by Jews. However, a Samaritan in good faith helps a Jew, who is beaten and left half dead alongside the road. This is after both a priest and a Levite came by and avoided the man. In fact, good Samaritan laws were enacted a long time ago in Europe and the United States. Those photographers, who arrived at the scene of Princess Diana's car accident and snapped photographs of her body instead of assisting her trapped in the car, were punished for violating good Samaritan law.

A flight attendant should immediately perform CPR on anyone who suffers from sudden cardiac arrest on board. This is to grasp 'golden time' to save life. Besides dealing with emergency situations, flight attendants' responsibility is focused on the passengers' needs and safety. Regardless of social rank, they treat all passengers like family, and assist passengers with special needs. They hand snacks and toys to crying children, and take care of passengers feeling unwell. As being one of flight attendants, I found it very hard to understand those people who simply left with their luggage without bothering to dial emergency services.

Not long before this tragic incident was out of my mind, I found myself getting into big trouble in the middle of the Qatar desert. While I was on desert tour, my car got stuck in a sand dune. Every time I tried to pull my car out of the sand, my car got stuck deeper into the sand. The water I brought with me was burning hot in the sun, and I was feeling very thirsty and dehydrated. I wasn't sure if I could leave my car and get out the desert, walking. I sat there exhausted. Then, a group of tourists who were having a barbecue from afar saw me and came hesitantly. However, they turned back halfway. Maybe they started thinking they didn't want to waste their vacation helping others. I felt bad, but I had no choice but praying for a miracle.

Then suddenly, I saw a giant 4WD vehicle coming to me. Two tall Arab men got out from the vehicle, skillfully tied up my car with a rope and pulled the rope with all their might. Few minutes later, my car was out of the sand. I was so happy that I jumped and cheered loudly. Feeling gratitude, I took some bills out of my wallet to treat them with a bottle of cold water on their way. However, they waved their hands roughly as if they were upset. They soon disappeared saying, "Handullah (Praise be to God!" I felt embarrassed for dishonoring them in good faith although it was not my intention.

In Islamic community, people believe than man is rewarded after death for his good deeds. The word 'Islam' means 'peace.' Muslims believe that they practice teachings of Holy Quran by helping neighbors in crisis.

Koreans also have a beautiful custom of caring others and valuing life highly. Our ancestors united efforts to help neighbors in need. During kimchi-making season, all the neighbors would gather together to make a large amount of kimchi and they would also share labor for a big party. They were aware that good deeds would always be rewarded. Although he was a weak citizen, the deceased taxi driver was surely a valuable member of our society. As long as we take care of children, elderly, and common people, we will be able to keep our children, parents, and even ourselves safe. It's not too late for the good Samaritan society.

*** Ji Byung-rim is a Qatar Airways cabin service director and the author of three books, including "How to Become a Crew of Arab Airline", "Thirty-year-old Crew', and "Charming Qatar."

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