What It Takes to Be a Good Man
The clue is in the name, Eugene Goodman Capitol Police
The video is all over the internet. A mob of rioters has broken into the Capitol building and Eugene, armed with just a police baton faces them off. Somehow, he maintains control and in front of overwhelming force is able to not only make a controlled retreat until backup arrives, but also to lure the mob away from the Senate chamber.
In the video, as Eugene is backing up the stairs, he looks to his left, where the chambers are and then moves to his right, where the mob follows him. This way, Eugene most likely helped to save lives as, according to the Washington Post, had the mob gone towards the chambers
“They would have been a few feet away from the main entrance into the chamber. On the other side of that door, had they made their way into the Senate, were at least a half-dozen armed officers, including one with a semiautomatic weapon in the middle of the floor scanning each entrance for intruders.”
Through his actions and unbeknownst to the mob who vastly outnumbered him, Eugene was protecting them. If the mob had gone through the corridor towards the chambers, it is likely that some if not many of them would have been shot.
This got me to thinking about what makes some men act like animals and others to conduct themselves with selflessness, even in the face of personal danger? Is it in our genes, are some of us just born altruistic, or is it learned as part of our upbringing and life experiences? Because, if there’s one way to test ourselves, to really see who we are, then that is in times of crisis, in times of extreme stress. That is when our true nature shows.
When you look at Eugene’s actions, it’s humbling and inspiring in equal measure. Most of us men spend our days in jobs where we make the hamster wheel go round. There’s no purpose to the day. Well, there is a kind of purpose, that is to make enough moolah to pay the bills, put food on the table, and warm socks on the kiddies’ feet. For sure, there’s honor in that. But it is mind-numbing and gets you to thinking about our purpose here in life. In bygone years we men fought battles to obtain bounties that would feed our families, we fought for more than ourselves, we fought for a tribe, a village, a family. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always fair to those on the receiving end of it, but there was purpose there. How much purpose is there to producing PowerPoint slides or sitting in yet another meeting with twenty other people discussing the company’s next hire or quarterly results?
It’s clear why there are people who will sign up for a poor wage, bad working hours, and possible personal danger. It’s because it feeds that need in so many of us men -- The need to serve, the need to protect, the need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We all need a purpose and a lack of purpose leads to a life less lived.
That’s why Eugene is an example to all of us men. When faced with danger, he faced it head-on and acted. He put himself between those he wanted to protect. There’s no greater honor than that.