09 May 2009

Cowardice

This happened several months ago.

There was a blog I'd gotten into the habit of reading now and then. The author was an artist -- and also a member of a minority which (though utterly harmless) is almost universally despised and misunderstood,* even in the country where he lives, which is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Where Jews 200 years ago were, blacks 60 years ago were, and gays 30 years ago were, they are today.

Despite a creative and lively personality, he clearly felt weighed down by the menacing social environment he constantly had to deal with. Finally, in one painful posting, he bluntly lamented the situation, wondering if a day would ever come when people like him would be able to live freely and openly, without fear of persecution.

I felt an urge to post a comment or contact him -- because I know that that day is coming, and most likely well within his lifetime. I don't know whether or not I could have convinced him, but I could certainly have tried.

But I didn't. I worried that any such communication could be traced back to me somehow, that I might be suspected of being one of them. And so, out of fear, I didn't do the right thing.

A few days after that, the blog disappeared. I don't know whether someone denounced him to the hosting service and they deleted it, or if he took it down himself out of fear or despair. And that was the end of that.

Later on the same morning when I'd found it gone, I was out at an ATM to get some cash and I noticed that the person who had been there before me had left his card in the machine. I ejected it and ran after him -- his car was just pulling out -- and managed to catch him and give it back. He was suitably appreciative. It was a trivial incident, but it made me feel better.

*Please don't e-mail and ask for details. I'm not going to say any more about this.

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