Thursday, November 7, 2013

The High Road's A Hard Road To Travel

Dear Reader,

How is that for a nineteenth century title?  Not long enough?  How do you like The High Road's A Hard Road To Travel, or Courage Can Be A Scary Thing?  One of the idiosyncrasies of nineteenth century literature that amuses me most are those practically paragraphical titles.

Cover of a book on the history of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans
I hope this post finds you well.  I have a confession to make.  Regretfully, the other day I failed to take the high road, courage escaped me, or in reality, I rejected it.  While walking to work everyday, I pass two gentlemen who post themselves along the road.  Without fail, one wishes me a great day, the other tips his hat and greets with a smile.  Many folks I know would scoff at these men, one holds a cup out for change, the other is selling his self-published books.  What separates them from others is their offered kindness.  Although their needs are obvious, they do not press them, they offer well-wishes first and foremost.
The issue at hand is that I saw the former the other morning and he looked somewhat upset.  He was not at his normal post but may have been in route to it.  He was walking rather quickly, and did not see me as he passed.  It was cold and overcast, I thought I should ask him if he needed some kind of assistance, but I passed and went on to the office.  Later, on the way home, the pangs of guilt began to gnaw at my conscience.
One friend I have lives by a newly appointed golden rule:  What Would Clara Do?  It seems quite likely she would have taken a much more elevated path and asked the gentleman if she could relieve his upset.  I suspect she would also likely take me to task for passing on an opportunity to help my fellow man.  She would be right, of course.  It is one of the characteristics of her I admire the most.

The High Road is indeed a very difficult one.  It is inconvenient, sometimes painful, under the most important circumstances frightening and even dangerous.  I watched a segment on the news of a consultant giving advice about how to avoid being killed in a situation like the recent mall attack where terrorists killed random shoppers.  The advice was to run.  Run as fast as you can and get away or hide.  There was no mention of how to get help, help others or best practices in stopping the predators.  Where would society be if everyone took this to heart?  If there was no Clara Barton?

Still going strong at age 75

It seems to me that is why Clara Barton is a legitimate and important character to study, promote and emulate.  Her courage to take the high road should be promoted above her physical features, ability to entertain, physical agility, or even business skills and acumen.  Clara Barton stood up for civil rights, humanity and universal prosperity when others asked what they could do for themselves.  She was selfless, often pushing her physical being to absolute and long-term collapse rather than take the easy road.
This post is my penance for taking the easy road.  I hearby resolve to elevate my path to serve others.  I hope this confession may inspire one of my dear readers to do the same.  I challenge you to redeploy random acts of kindness, and remember how sad the world would be without heroes and role models of the likes of one selfless woman, Clara Barton.

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