After reading Rob’s soliloquy on activism (note to Rob: I recommend a listen to this and this and this, all interviews with activists about why they’re active), I was reminded of my own personal Mobius loop of a logical problem.
Conventional wisdom has it that parents will automatically, without thinking, do anything to save the life of their child. I knew this going in. But I always thought it was going to be some sort of intellectual thing, this burning building, speeding car, thundering bison rescue exercise. What nothing prepared me for is that it’s neither intellectual nor emotional, at least in any conscious sense: I simply would. Without thinking, or feeling. My defense of my son has become a part of me. Or it has always been a part of me. Or something like that.
Now here’s the thing: I would also, in exactly the same vein, risk my life to save Catherine’s. And my brothers’. And my parents’. I’d run into a burning building to save my nextdoor neighbour. If a speeding car were speeding down on the kid from around the corner, I’d try to save them too.
All of these are easy and natural.
The question is: where do I draw the line? For whom, as the ripples of familiarity wend weaker, would I not try to distract the bison or jump across the rushing gulch?
Which is where things get complicated. Right now there are probably things I could be doing that are far less self-indulgent than sitting in front of a computer in a warm house at 2:12 a.m. writing about bison. Things that could save lives. I could be donating money to Save The Children, or writing letters for Amnesty International, or on call for the local volunteer fire department. I could be writing an educational pamphlet about the dangers of globalization, or caulking my windows to reduce my reliance on oil.
But I’m not.
Which means that, somewhere after, say, my 6th grade teacher (save) and an anonymous [insert malady here] kid in [insert far away place here] (don’t save), lies the line. Somehow lives I know are worth more than lives I don’t know.
I’ve a feeling that in that lies the root of a lot of what ails the world.