On Morality

I picked up a hitchhiker tonight. It’s freezing outside—it didn’t occur to me NOT to stop and offer help. If it matters to you–Yes, I was alone. Yes, I’m a woman. And yes, I was unarmed. But I stopped anyway.

The man I picked up gave me a quizzical look as he got into the passenger seat. “I don’t think I woulda stopped if I was alone and a girl. Thanks.”

I didn’t explain to him that I saw his broken-down car a half mile back. I didn’t explain that a drifter usually has on a heavier coat this time of year, or at least a bag. And probably a hat of some sort. Because, honestly, I had no idea if any of these things were really true or even relevant. Instead, I said the first thing that came to mind, and I am proud that it turned out to be the only thing that ended up mattering in the end, anyway: “Fear isn’t a good enough reason not to do the right thing.”

We had a good conversation and sang along with Disturbed’s version of Sound of Silence for the ten minutes it took me to drop him off, and I’m not ashamed to say that I thought about that little bit of perfectly-worded idealism all the way home. Usually I have to write and re-write a sentence a dozen times for it to turn out that well.

Fear isn’t a good enough reason not to do the right thing.

I don’t think I’ve ever put it into words before. But if you ever wonder why I stop to help stranded drivers at night, why I open up my home to refugees during crises, or why I’m willing to go unarmed in protests against Nazis and people like them, I want you to remind yourself of this: Sometimes I AM afraid before I take action, but I try to do the right thing anyway. Because as afraid as I am of the “other” entities that might do me harm, I’m MORE afraid of the person I’ll be when I stop believing in this one thing:

Fear isn’t a good enough reason not to do the right thing.

fear_tnelson

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