What Makes People Save Lives? Learning from Upstanders and Bystanders

New York Daily News, 2020

4 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

University of Florida Levin College of Law; Boston University - School of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: October 27, 2020


The recent death of Sophia Farrar and arrest of Paul Rusesabagina — though some 8,000 miles apart — are striking reminders of the challenges of heroism narratives. Farrar (who died at age 92 on Aug. 28) was largely forgotten, and Rusesabagina (whom the Rwanda Investigation Bureau took into custody on Aug. 31 and who is now facing trial) has been remembered in conflicting ways. Each situation compels us to reflect on the complications of commemorating and reasons for recognizing “upstanders” — people who intervene to assist others in peril. We should study purported heroes both to determine the accuracy of their supposed altruism and, if verified, to understand how we may encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Keywords: bystanders, upstanders, heroes, villains, Kitty Genovese, Sophia Farrar, Paul Rusesabagina, Rwanda, Syria, Genocide, Rwandan Genocide, Holocaust, Hotel Rwanda, White Helmets, save, rescue, protect, rape, murder, criminal law, Bad Samaritan laws, punishment, prevention, deterrence, incentives, metoo

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., What Makes People Save Lives? Learning from Upstanders and Bystanders (October 27, 2020). New York Daily News, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3720137

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

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