In response to a recent post about my brother being oblivious to crime in ethnic neighborhoods, TOTWTYTR posted this:
I hope you won’t take offense when I say that you obviously got the common sense in the family.
I am not offended, but I think that this illustrates a basic divide in how paramedics and the rest of society perceive our world. On the one hand, you have people that live their lives getting their news from the MSM, who we know filters crime reports to remove mentions of blacks committing crime. These people are the soccer parents. They are busy with work, careers, taking the kids to soccer and baseball practice, and they travel in a circle of polite company. All of their friends are basically like them (as is the case with most people). The only contact that they have with homeless people is that heartwarming story they saw in the local paper about the homeless mom with two kids, and the homeless guy that they have a dollar to yesterday. Their main experience with drug users is seeing them on shows like CSI. The only black families that they know are also professionals, and more closely resemble the Cosby or Obama family than they do the hard core gangsters of central LA.
On the other hand, we have street paramedics. Decades of running the streets and venturing into the sorts of neighborhoods where shootings are a nightly occurrence, picking up homeless psychotics, and pushing naloxone into heroin addicts opens your eyes to what the world really is. I have seen a man murder his father to steal a couple of thousand dollars from him, a woman murder her four kids and kill herself to punish her straying husband, and I have seen men cut each other open for a cellphone. I often tell people that this is the true price that we pay for being paramedics: We lose our belief in humanity. Maybe that faith was never justified in the first place, but after a time spent watching people in their truest form, your eyes are open, and you forever look at humans differently.
After a year or two of working the streets, you see humans not as my brother and his friends do, but as the most dangerous and lethal life form on the planet. When my son began working in EMS at the age of 18, he once told me that I was burned out because I had made a remark about frequent flyer homeless bums. He said that it was time for me to find a new career, because I was jaded and didn’t have empathy. A year into his career, he told me about a guy that had been taped to a chain link fence, crucifiction style, with duct tape. The people who put him there had taped a plastic bag over his head and left him there to suffocate. Think about how cruel that is. Two years later, he was sounding exactly like I had when he called me burned out. I still chide him about that.
Looking upon man’s inhumanity to his own kind, you lose a part of your soul, like a child that loses his belief in Santa Claus, a bit of childhood innocence and wonder is gone. That loss of childhood innocence is the price we pay for being adults, just as our loss of faith in humanity is the price that paramedics pay to remain sane after seeing the things that we have seen.
My brother isn’t a moron, he is just ignorant to the world as it exists beyond his visible horizon. In some ways, this makes him naive and blind to the truth. In other ways, this is a blessing.