The United States has become a nation of cowards.

My guess is 90 percent of the people reading this article are saying, “Not me! I’m no coward.” But maybe “we” are in the minority. Those of us who choose to take a stand are certainly outnumbered by the people who simply want to post their support for a cause on Facebook and believe that actually does something. All those “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the latest news-making event mean nothing.

It is your actions that define you, not your hopes and dreams and certainly not your thoughts and prayers. In the words of Sean Connery, who played the one honest Chicago cop in the motion picture The Untouchables, “What are you prepared to do?”

Here is a story about a woman attacked while riding a train in Washington, D.C. (That’s the town with only 48 gun permits.) She laments that during the attack, which she admits could have been much worse, no one came to her aid. People just tried to ignore what was going on despite her pleas for help and her attempts to escape. The woman then goes on to say that she might not have helped if the tables had been turned. She claims that “fear is a powerful emotion.”

I reached out to the writer and asked for an interview. She declined. She just wanted to put the entire incident behind her and not think about it.

Denial helps nothing. She will be a victim again someday because she will do nothing to change her situation. Well, she will move out of the city, stop riding the train, and hide in a suburban home where she claims everything is “just fine.”

Is this our nation? Are we teaching our children and grandchildren to ignore cries for help because they might end up in a dangerous situation? How did this happen? When did the majority of the population just give up? This is what happens when, for more than four decades, you tell people, “Don’t fight back. Nothing is worth dying for. Just call 911.”

You’ve heard the cliché, “If there is nothing worth dying for, what do you have to live for?” It’s well past time to throw that line of thinking in the trash bin. Today’s kindergarten teachers are wrong! There are reasons to fight for. We should be teaching people to fight for their rights, for their freedom from aggression, for their ability to travel on public transportation without being attacked, and for the idea that others don’t simply get to take what is ours.

I blame this sort of thing on the zero-tolerance policies at grade schools across this county. Those policies remove the idea of thought and justification when dealing with discipline in the schools. When students fight, they must be suspended. End of story. School officials no longer ask why the students were fighting. They just hand out suspensions without explanation or discussion. As a result, the officials don’t have to “take sides,” but the kids get no understanding of when it is right to defend oneself.

There is a right time to fight! Say it with me: THERE IS A RIGHT TIME TO FIGHT!

That means we need to learn not only when to fight, but also how to fight. It is our right and our duty to defend ourselves. And, maybe, just maybe, we should think about stepping in to defend others.

I know, I have said that you have no moral obligation to get involved. I have said that sometimes you should simply be a good witness. But if you can dial 911; if you can ring the emergency buzzer; if you can do something to help without using deadly force, you should be willing to consider it. Let’s not hide from this.

Read the story. Then come back and tell me what you think. What do you feel you could have done? Is there anything? What would make you finally act?

This story reminds me of a quote from my favorite historical figure, Theodore Roosevelt.

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”


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