There’s a scene in The Road where the boy doesn’t want to hear the man tell a story.
The boy says, “Those stories are not true.”
The man responds, “They don’t have to be true. They’re stories.”
“Yes,” says the boy, “But in the stories we’re always helping people and we don’t help people.”
I think those are some of the saddest lines in the book. There are so many times where the man and the boy could help, but they almost never do. It bothers the kid, because he’s “carrying the fire” and the fire presumably insists on compassion. But the man’s point is clear, helping people will get you killed, fast, by the people you’re helping or by the people who want to kill the people you’re helping. It’s a hard call.
I sometimes have this fantasy that me and Goose will walk the streets of our neighborhood helping people with all the troubles they might be caught in, big and small. But we don’t do much of that. Once, a guy needed directions and I gave him reasonably good directions. But that’s about it.
We could pick up trash. We could help stray dogs find their way home. We could tell the homeless guy staring at the Jesus that he’s not alone. Definitely could do those things.