Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Fear vs. Common Sense

It strikes me that there is no clear line between fear and common sense sometimes, and that as Christians, one call towards doing acts is to get close to that line and even cross it.

This occurred to me when, for the umpteenth time I saw a broken down motorist on the side of the road and didn't pull over to see if anyone needed help. Often, I cannot in fact pullover, because I notice it too late, and I live in Boston. (Don't judge me. You've never lived here.) Driving around here is insane, and you cannot react with normal reflexes and expect to live much past your first rush hour.

But other times I see people and ponder whether to stop, and by the time I think it through it's too late. What causes the pondreing is the possibility that the people stopped by the side of the road are there to kill me. Well, not me, as such, but any person dumb enough to stop. That sort of thing makes the papers just often enough to be present in my mind. Statistically, that's a foolish worry for me, but improbable things are usually frightening enough to override reason. Additionally, sometimes people who really do try to help wind up in trouble if the person being aided freaks out and thinks the *helper* is actually the killer.

None of this is a very good excuse for inaction, however, and so I feel kind of crummy about it. If I see a cell phone in the hands of the person, I can keep going without much guilt. But I sure wish my common sense fear of doing something risky (just getting out of your car on the highways here is pretty bloody risky) would get out of the way of my obligation to help those in obvious need.


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