"When Paul Stanley Schmidt was stabbed to death in front of his 3-year-old daughter while standing outside a downtown Vancouver Starbucks on March 26," the Epoch Times reports, "nobody stepped in to help."
That does not seem so surprising. I mean, how do you help someone being stabbed to death? Only, it would seem by making an unarmed attack on a maniac with a knife, which requires both presence of mind and courage, of which perhaps few of us have in sufficient abundance. But what does seem astonishing is what bystanders actually did. One continued to sip his coffee, two filmed the action, while a TikToker took a selfie video standing next to the dying man.
Such is the state of society among those who hang out at a Vancouver Starbucks if, that is, it means anything to call those nonchalant bystanders members of a society. Rather, it seems Canada has given birth to a populaton for whom the words of the poet have no relevance:
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less as well as if a promontory were;
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
Yet pursuing a business interest, eight hundred kilometers to the North of Vancouver, in the frozen wastes of Central British Columbia, I discovered that society still thrives.
Well, true, the area to the North East of the city of Prince George, BC it is not entirely a wasteland. In the valleys of the Fraser and Willow Rivers, areas of benchland have been cleared for cattle ranching, and along the highway there are scattered places of human habitation: houses, trailers, and more and less tumble-down shacks. It was in this country that I ventured off the highway to explore a wooded property, filling my boots with snow as a consequence. Thus, on returning to my car, I opened the trunk to retrieve dry socks and shoes, and then, having attended to my feet, I slammed the trunk shut intent on resuming my journey. Then did I realize that I must have put my car keys down inside the trunk. Further I discovered that my cell phone had died. I was thus without either transportation or communications, half frozen, and in the middle of nowhere.
Only months short of my eightieth birthday, it occurred to me that the best plan might be to lie down in the ditch and die, to be found like the stranger who haunted a remote Russian village in the Goncharov novel, Oblomov. But as I contemplated this response to my inane action, a car traveling at great speed along the winding, lake-shore highway came in view, and I weakly raised a thumb. To my amazement, the driver braked, halted, then began reversing swiftly toward me, while opening the door for me to get in.
With me on board, the driver resumed his furious pace, taking turns marked "60" at a hundred and more, something which he did with evident skill. Indeed, without great skill he could surely not have lived to drive so fast. I rapidly gained confidence in his excellent coordination and even began to enjoy the ride. Happily the Peace Officer in a parked vehicle who gave us a flashing blue light, did not engage in pursuit.
I explained my predicament to the well-coordinated Samaritan and asked if he could drop me off at a service station where I might hope to find assistance. As an alternative, however, he suggested taking me to the general store of a nearby village where lived a fireman expert at breaking into cars.
This seemed a promising suggestion, which I accepted, and a few minutes later, I was on the stoop of a village stores that I was to discover sold almost everything from fireworks, to Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, plus an excellent self-published book on local history.
But I had 45 minutes to wait until the store opened, so I walked every street of the village -- twice. The place reminded me of the golden years of childhood while living in a remote and poverty-stricken village in the the South West of England, in the county of Devon. Dogs barked, a rooster crowed. Smoke issued from the chimney of several cottages, although most are now heated by oil, as was evident from the refraction of light in a column of hot exhaust gas rising from the chimney tops.
None of the houses were large, most were more or less delapidated, some not far short of collapse, none were what a city dweller would call smart. I saw no ornamental gardens although, to be fair, early April is hardly spring in that area, so flowers in front yards may bloom yet. Most yards had a truck parked, or several, and often a camper or trailer, or some logging tackle. There was a community hall, a fire hall, a gospel hall, and for the instruction of all, one resident had erected a billboard headed: "TRUDEAU: Coward, Liar, Thief," my own sentiment, exactly.
At nine O'clock exactly, the village store opened its door and I explained my predicatment to the storekeeper. She thought that the fireman would still be sleeping, but she phoned him anyway and invited me to help myself to coffee, rather sharply declining payment. Within a few minutes, the fireman appeared and offered immediate assistance. Thus we walked to the fire hall, loaded a pick-up with a collection of car-breaking tools, plus more than two meters of a friendly golden-Lab/Irish-wolfhound cross.
Getting my keys from the locked trunk was not a simple matter. Even an old Saab is not a piece of junk. Doors and windows fit tightly. Thought was given in the design of the thing to prevent precisely what we intended to do. To open the trunk directly would have been a simple matter for the fireman, equipped as he was, but it would have meant bending metal. Therefore, it was decided to seek access via the cabin. For this purpose, various tools were deployed, including a hollow wedge that, inserted between door frame and pillar provided a channel through which various tools could be inserted. But none permitted application of sufficient force to the "unlock door" button. However, a loop of thread at the end of a length of tubing provided means to lift a door lock actuator.
We were in. But accessing the trunk from the cabin remained a challenge. The rear seat back folds down, but the catch holding the seat back in place is located inside the trunk. Happily the rear seatback has a small central drop-down door -- presumably to allow the insertion of skis, two-by-fours, etc. This door can be opened from inside the car. Through the small aperture thus provided, we pulled through wet boots, socks, and other personal effects and miscellaneous junk until, with the aid of a flashlight, we spotted my keys and were able to scoop them out.
I offered the fireman, indeed the Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department, some bills in compensation for his gas, time and expertise. He look at little hurt. Then he took the money saying, "I'll donate this to the Fire Department."
Such is the spirit of community in rural Canada, a spirit that may embrace even an total stranger.
And if this tale has a moral, I think it is this: we are all, virtually all, descended from peasants. Thus it is to the life of the peasant, an inhabitant of a poor rural community whose members depend for survival as much on the good will of neighbours as on their own endeavors, that we are still emotionally and morally adapted. Yet today we mostly live in the totally different world of the city to which many are ill-adapted and where not a few become truly deranged. Hence the widespread social disfunction in our major urban centers.