News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Being good citizen requires more than passive morality

The terrible saga leading from the death of Carrie Vanessa Rush at Flint Creek Bottoms to the arrest Friday of a suspect, David Leon Hicks, is a potent reminder that not doing bad does not always equate to doing good.

Whether the driver was Mr. Hicks or someone else, it is easy to see how weakness rather than malice could have created a furor that left a community shocked and a family distraught.

We know that Ms. Rush was pushing her 1-year-old son in a stroller, at night, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the county. We don't know what the driver saw or felt when he struck Ms. Rush, but panic and an impulse for self-preservation are reasonable guesses. Did he know that the collision also left a child hopelessly exposed to oncoming traffic? Did he leave the scene aware that one was dead and another in danger?

We don't know these answers, maybe never will, but the incident reminds us that our moral lapses more often result from a cascade of small mistakes than from a momentous decision to do wrong. The consequences of self-centeredness — of worrying more about our own short-term plights than the well-being of those around us — can kill the innocent, ruin lives and disrupt communities.

In the midst of mourning, we would do well to remind ourselves and our children how quickly and easily the failure to do right can turn into doing wrong.

As set forth in the book of James, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

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