The Ethical Take: Good News (for a change)

Published: May 14, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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Even though the turmoil in Washington tends to suck all the oxygen out of the news cycle each week, there are positive stories that deserve our attention and appreciation. Here are three.

Waffle House Hero –

Last month, James Shaw, Jr., who, at the risk to his own life, prevented a gunman from taking more lives by wrestling the gun from him, goes one giant step further by helping raise money for the victims’ families.

“Shaw,” The Chicago Tribune writes (May 7), “set a funding campaign goal of $15,000 to offer modest financial support to the victims. As of Monday, he said, the campaign had received more than 6,000 donations totaling $227,000.

“ ‘To the thousands of people who have expressed their care, prayers and made financial donations, I can only respond by saying “Thank you,” Shaw said in his statement. ‘Your gifts to the people who lost their lives and suffered injuries mean so much for all who were impacted by this terrible tragedy.’ ”

“The account will be closed May 13,” The Tribune writes. “After that, Shaw said, the Nashville office of financial services firm UBS will distribute the money to the victims and their families.”

The E.T.: Only one thing to say; we need more James Shaw, Jr’s!

The Man with the Golden Arm –

In another hero story, Australian James Harrison’s character and compassion has saved the lives of millions of babies.

“In 1951,” The Washington Post reports (May 12), “a 14-year-old Australian boy named James Harrison awoke from a major chest operation. Doctors had removed one of his lungs in a procedure that had taken several hours — and would keep him hospitalized for three months.

According to his father, Harrison was “alive, thanks in large part to a vast quantity of transfused blood he had received…” from “unknown people.”

Because of their actions, Harrison vowed to become a blood donor when he turned 18, the legal aged required to donate blood in Australia.

“ ‘In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn’t know why, and it was awful,’ Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. ‘Women were having numerous miscarriages, and babies were being born with brain damage.’

“The babies,” The Post continues, “it turned out, were suffering from hemolytic disease of the newborn, or HDN. The condition most often arises when a woman with an Rh-negative blood type becomes pregnant with a baby who has Rh-positive blood, and the incompatibility causes the mother’s body to reject the fetus’s red blood cells.

“Doctors realized, however, that it might be possible to prevent HDN by injecting the pregnant woman with a treatment made from donated plasma with a rare antibody.”

Guess who had that rare antibody? James Harrison.

“He has said he didn’t think twice when scientists reached out to him to ask if he would participate in what would become known as the Anti-D Program.

“ ‘They asked me to be a guinea pig, and I’ve been donating ever since,’ Harrison told the Sydney Morning Herald.”

The Red Cross Blood Service estimates that over the last 60 years, Harrison has saved approximately 2.5 million babies in Australia.

“When a reporter asked if what he was doing was courageous, Harrison squeezed his eyes together and shook his head.

“ ‘That’s the other rare thing about James,” Falkenmire told the network then. ‘He thinks his donations are the same as anybody else’s. He doesn’t think he’s remarkable.’ ”

The Ethical Take: Harrison is more than remarkable. He’s inspirational.

Just a Secretary? –

New York’s Henry Street Settlement just received the largest single donation in the 125-year history of the organization, $6.24 million and it came from a former secretary.

Henry Street Settlement,” the organization’s website says, “opens doors of opportunity for Lower East Side residents and other New Yorkers through social services, arts, and health care programs.”

The donor, Sylvia Bloom worked “for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016,” The New York Times reports (May 6).

“…even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.

“ ‘She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,’ recalled her niece Jane Lockshin. ‘So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary.’

“Since Ms. Bloom never talked about this, even to those closest to her, the fact that she had carefully cultivated more than $9 million among three brokerage houses and 11 banks, emerged only at the end of her life — ‘an oh my God moment,’ said Ms. Lockshin, the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate. …

“Ms. Bloom’s will allowed for some money to be left to relatives and friends, but directed that the bulk of the fortune go toward scholarships of Ms. Lockshin’s choice for needy students.”

The E.T.: Another ethical hero noteworthy for both her compassion and civic duty.

Each of them inspire us all to do better.


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