Don't just do nothing
With so many people behaving badly, what's a conscientious citizen to do?
Slave quarters from early 19th century at a plantation in South Carolina, relics of what theologians would call a sin of commission. How might we respond today?
In a world made perilous by people behaving badly, we’re often too distracted to honor folks who are doing good, let alone even notice the crowd of us who kind of muddle along, neither harming nor helping much. Maybe I’m just feeling guilty about all that I haven’t done.
Nobody imagines themselves to be Goody Two-Shoes, who in a wildly popular 18th-century children’s story lived a life of such virtue that, in the end, she had no regrets. Most of us instead find ourselves cringing, even years later, at the memory of so many (surely unintended) misdeeds and (sadly recalled) missed opportunities for good deeds. Regrets? I’ve had a few.
But unless you’ve committed some fairly egregious offenses — like, say, a violent crime that has landed you in prison and impoverished your family — you probably feel bad mostly about what you haven’t…