I'm not thinking of the Winston Groom novel.
Actually, I was thinking of how murky and convoluted life is today compared with even thirty years ago, let alone further back into our past.
I've always had a pretty straight forward view of life. Things are right or wrong, black or white. Doubtless that's a gross oversimplification, but it's worked for me. I suppose I'm lucky not to have gotten into trouble with that philosophy. Maybe it has only been viable because I tend to limit my interaction with other people so my values are not frequently tested.
Everyone has seen the quote attributed to Edmund Burke (it may actually have been John Mill who said it)
Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
I have always believed this was true and have acted accordingly. You have to wonder, though, if things are not so shades of gray today that this outlook is obsolete. It's perfectly true that by intervening in some other persons situation, no matter how desperate, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of trouble. In some places more than others. I think you have more flexibility of action in a rural setting, because in general there is an attempt on the part of the Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's office to use common sense . In cities, they just arrest everybody and grind them through the legal system. Sort of a "kill them all, let God sort them out" attitude.
Maybe men today have to be different in this respect. If you have seen The Road, or read the book, you probably remember the scene where the protagonist and his son see cannibals running down a woman and her child. He has only one round for his little pistol. He and his son run off and leave the woman and child to be eaten. I know, logically, that in this situation there was nothing else he could have done. Even so, the scene irritated me and really broke the connection between me and the father in the show that up until that moment had been positive. Well, I've never denied I have some personality quirks and doubtless I would have done better during the Crusades than I do in today's society.
I see the logic behind the new , more realistic values but I don't accept either the logic or the values. Good thing I live up here on the mountain, I doubt I would last long in a city. Which gives me more to think about in terms of what happens after my wife retires. If I leave here, I better go to the desert and not a Florida condo. I don't want to become the next Zimmerman.