Friday, August 03, 2007

Heroes and villains

We sure had a shocking contrast in front page stories today in our major daily newspapers; human experience was personified in two extremes, one in heroism and the other in villainy.
First the good news, as reported in the Vancouver Sun:

A Kamloops man is being hailed as a hero for saving the life of a 12-year-old boy who was attacked by a cougar …
Colton Reeb was camping with Marc Patterson and his wife and daughter on the Patterson property.
Colton was walking to the outhouse after dinner at 6:30 p.m. when a male cougar weighing about 30 kilograms jumped him from behind.
Patterson, who had been sitting on a picnic bench outside the cabin, said "suddenly we heard a deathly scream." He said his daughter Larah, 12, went to investigate.
"She said Dad, there's a cougar on him.' I just got up and ran all the way down there. There was a lot of blood absolutely all over the kid's head," Patterson said.
"Patterson said the cougar had Colton's head in his mouth and his paws around his neck "like a kitty cat would play with a ball."
Not knowing what else to do, Patterson ran toward the cat and kicked it five times in the head but it didn't flinch. He then knelt down and put his knee on its back and wrapped his hands around the cougar's neck, choking it with his bare hands.
"I squeezed as hard as I could and after five seconds or so, he let go," Patterson said…
As he stood, the cougar stood about a metre from him, his ears flattened and his eyes huge, ready to attack again, Patterson said.
As Colton ran, Patterson lifted his arms and growled at the cougar "like a grizzly bear," giving his family and the injured boy a chance to reach their truck.

Patterson said he had a few scrapes on his leg but otherwise was all right. However, he was just starting to feel the shock Thursday night. He hadn't slept since the attack.
"It was a horrible sight to see," he said. "I said earlier I was scared, but I was just pumped. It was survival time. I didn't know what it was . . . but I wasn't going to let that boy die."

From that act of selflessness we turn to the front page of the Vancouver Province for a story of another predator, this one a disgusting display of ingratitude and selfishness:

Vancouver police have made an arrest in the attack and robbery of an elderly man as he left Vancouver's Holy Rosary Cathedral Wednesday morning.
Darcy Lance Jones, 43, is facing a charge of robbery, and remains in police custody.

He is known to police and familiar to many in the area, and calls himself a "professional panhandler."
Witnesses to the attack say a bearded man who regularly panhandles outside the church attacked the longtime parishioner in what police called a "heartless and shocking" assault.
The attack, caught on surveillance video, shows the victim being knocked to the ground before the suspect takes off with the contents of his wallet.
The 79-year-old victim had given the panhandler $5 every day that week, but when he tried to give him the money on this occasion he was assaulted instead.
That is such a beautiful church; I've attended Mass there, and I believe I even recognized both victim and attacker from the video images released through the media.
I've written sporadically over the months about seeing beggars routinely standing right outside these, and other, church steps, and what I read into that choice of theirs. Whether they are addled by drug addictions or not, they know enough to know that those entering or exiting the church feel as though the experience within is of help to them. The beggars may be brain-damaged from alcohol abuse, but they know enough to know that many people are helped to become better people by attending the Masses that take place inside that building behind them each and every day.
So why stay outside? Why not accept tendered invitations to join us inside, and sit a while? and listen to what we hear when we are on the inside. Can humbling yourself to confess that you sin through your own fault, be such a fearful admission to consider? Can accepting the duty to be of service to others, through being of greater service to yourself, be such a frightful obligation to embrace?
What's scarier, facing a cougar or facing your own mistakes, and trying to change for the better?
For one "professional panhandler", I think we know the answer.

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