Last week, the Eagle News staff engaged in a, shall we say lively, discussion on cheating. Specifically, it was about whether or not it’s wrong to become involved with someone who has a boyfriend/girlfriend, under the idea that you aren’t directly hurting anyone, but instead the person you’re seeing is. Of all the arguments used in favor, the most baffling to me was: “We’re young.”
It’s often said, “youth is wasted on the young.” Perhaps it is to this cynicism and shirking of responsibility that they are referring. While it’s easy to brush off problems, especially those of others, with the excuse of “I’m not equipped to deal with this,” that logic falls short for two reasons. The first is that we’re all adults, so even if we are young, we now have independence and therefore an inherent responsibility to use it productively. The second is that even if you aren’t ready to deal, A. No one cares, because when you need to make a decision, people expect you to make it. Period. And B. You will never be ready until you’ve done it. An obvious counterpoint is that those only apply to big decisions. But every decision that affects someone else, including someone you don’t know, is a big one.
We get too self-involved, remembering only our own schedules and desires. We forget that others are just as rounded as us, or at least have the potential to be. We all just want to get through life with as little pain as possible, and perhaps make the world a better place. Even Brother Micah believes he’s doing the right thing. He’s just too focused on his own goals to realize that shouting at people while they’re trying to eat is a poor way to make an argument. That jackass breaking every traffic law in the books? Maybe she’s trying to get to the hospital to see her sister. The cashier that was short with you? Maybe he was just denied a promotion because of an outside hire. Maybe those people just suck, but you never know when you’ll run across someone who’s in a serious pickle. Better to let a thousand guilty men go free than make one innocent man suffer. By the same token, be mindful of yourself and how you may interfere with others. You never know when your example might be the one that changes someone’s outlook.
To be sure, watching out for others and understanding their situation is hard work. Rarely is the noble path an easy one. If you have a conundrum, just talk it out, especially if it’s embarrassing. You’d be surprised what five minutes of face-to-face communication will solve. Really, helping others or making everything about you just comes down to what title you want when your name goes down in the history book: hero or hypocrite.