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Ohio Kidnapping Shows It Doesn’t Take Much Effort to Be a Hero

Ohio Kidnapping Shows It Doesn’t Take Much Effort to Be a Hero

It was a nice day in Cleveland, and Charles Ramsey was eating lunch on his front porch. Nothing special — just fast food. A quiet afternoon, really. Nothing special going on.

That’s when he heard a woman crying for help.

“I figured it was a domestic violence dispute,” he said in an interview. “So I open the door. And we can’t get in that way ’cause of how the door is….So we kicked the bottom.”

The woman who came out turned out to be Amanda Berry, who had been kidnapped as a teen a decade ago. Two other women, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, were also being held prisoner in that home, along with a young girl.

If you’re uncharitable, you might say that Ramsey was in the right place at the right time. When Amanda Berry clawed her way to the door and shouted for help, clearly anyone would have come to her aid, whether they thought she was an abused woman or a kidnap victim.

It would be nice to think that Ramsey did what anyone would do, but we know for a fact that most people wouldn’t. Given a chance to help, most humans will decide to walk away, especially if we think someone else will step up and act. The impulse to mind our own business, to treat people in despair as somebody else’s problem, is hard-wired into us.

This is especially true in cases of domestic violence. A South African study showed that people will call the police when someone’s playing the drums in the middle of the night — but loud depictions of domestic violence are met with silence. We don’t like to get involved. We don’t like to intervene in others’ personal lives. We are biased to mind our own business.

What Ramsey did was what we all think we would do, what we all aspire to do. But it’s not what we would all do if faced with a real crisis.

Ramsey’s blunt interview has earned him a bit of notoriety, because rather than being polished in interviews, he’s spoken with passion and excitement and justifiable pride in his actions. And fine, one expects everyone to be autotuned these days. But I certainly hope that people don’t think that Ramsey’s statements diminish his standing. Most people, given the chance to do what Ramsey did, would have passed. By any objective measure, Ramsey is a better person that most.

The word hero is thrown about casually, but its definition is simple: a person who, in the face of adversity, takes action for good in a way that most people would not. Quite simply, Charles Ramsey is a hero, because when he had the chance to walk away, to mind his own business, to not get involved, he instead ran to a door and forced it open, and helped three women and a girl escape their captors.

Maybe not all of us would act as he did. But all of us should remember, and when we see someone in distress, †we need to be willing to do what Ramsey did — ignore the voice telling us to stay put, and charge instead to aid those in need.

 

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273 comments

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2:19PM PST on Dec 11, 2013

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times...it doesn't matter what the issue, or what the problem, the VAST MAJORITY of people always choose to sit back and whine, saying things like "Someone (else...but not me...'cause I don't wanna get involved...) really needs to do something about that."

Eventually, maybe there will be SOMETHING that wakes people up...but I honestly can't see what that might be.

A global fiat currency fraud which is leading to the first global financial collapse...not good enough. (I bet you all thought it was over in 2008, too? It ain't!)

A new war damned near every week in countries most of us not only can't find on a map, but that we've never even heard of "because they're a threat to our freedoms." Nope...not good enough there, either.

Private prisons are starting to sue state governments for not giving them enough statutory prisoners to profit from. Nope...still not nearly enough.

I guess, we just wait unti it lands on our own front porch...then we might consider that it may be time to begin possibly thinking about considering possible alternatives...but then...why bother? Someone (else...but not me!) will surely take care of that...right?

That plan's worked out so well for us all over the last century, hasn't it?

(sigh...)

10:02AM PDT on Jul 4, 2013

Definitely a hero, Charlie Ramsay

2:17AM PDT on Jun 27, 2013

Charles Ramsey, you are a true definition of a hero! You saved those women from a horrible situation and you should be very proud of yourself. We are very proud of you!

12:19PM PDT on May 27, 2013

Shared...

4:43AM PDT on May 16, 2013

Charles Ramsey is a true hero! I heard he even turn down a reward and said to give it to the girls. May God richly bless him!

2:26PM PDT on May 13, 2013

Where did the idea come from that if we think it's "only" domestic violence, we don't need to get involved or call the police?

When I hear someone calling for help, I try to find out what's going on. And I wonder what's wrong with people who don't.

Charles Ramsey may really have just been in the right place at the right time, but if he hadn't gone to that door, those girls would still be prisoners -- if Amanda hadn't been killed for trying to escape. Maybe God put him on his front porch at that precise moment because he WOULD go see what was happening when someone yelled for help.

4:08AM PDT on May 13, 2013

GOD BLESS ALL WHO WERE INVOLVED AND HAVE MERCY ON THE DEMENTED SOULS WHO CHOSE TO TORTURE THOSE WOMEN. RAMSEY IS A GUARDIAN ANGEL TO THOSE WOMAN.

10:12AM PDT on May 12, 2013

Completely agree, Ramsey was a hero for his simple act that saved 3 women and 1 little girls lives. Society should encourage people to go against the grain, not to wait for someone else to respond.

1:58AM PDT on May 12, 2013

There's not many in the community that are braved enough like this man's actions. The kidnapper could be a serial killer / rapist / trafficker.

10:51PM PDT on May 11, 2013

I agree with Lyn B. and Dale O., and seems the comment paying more attention to bashing fast-food rather than address this situation is gone, or at least I didn't see it.........GOOD!

Not sure if the next-door-neighbor is a certified "hero" or not, but glad he stepped up to the plate and investigated and then proceeded to take action rather than to ignore it and walk away.

As for the cops ignoring previous complaints, according to every news report I've seen, and that is on a dozen different networks and websites, no calls about suspicious activity were ever recorded or made. The neighbors said he always came across as a nice guy who minded his own business and one said he'd BBQ'd with him and everything seemed quite "normal". I also had wondered about the brothers and why they weren't charged, but seemed they honestly had no clue, nor did the guy's own daughter!

I heard last night on Nightline that they might seek the death penalty, since he caused the one victim to abort 5 times. I hope they do! Maybe they can do a double execution........him and Jodie Arias, but she now has changed her "tune" and says she welcomes death. Maybe that's why she stabbed her former BF 27 times & shot him in the face.........she was doing him a favor?

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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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