Steen

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” - Albus Dumbledore

As a teenager, I decided the bike path in our small town was not being taken care of, and it bothered me. It was a problem because it was difficult to ride on, but more than that was the fact that the bicycle path had been named for a young friend who had died.

The Russell Nelms Bike Path was to be a beautiful thing, but it had developed ruts and holes, and it had weeds growing over it. I wrote a letter to our local newspaper, taking the time to do what I thought must be done. I guess it would have been easier to ride off the path, but as Professor Dumbledore says, we must choose between what is easy and what is right. Rarely do the two cross paths, it seems.

Writing this in March of 2020, we have had a lot of unusual things happening in our world and in my country. One might say we are in dark times.

  • · We are watching what some thought was a simple virus, like the common cold, wreak havoc across the globe. Citizens in many countries are being forced to choose between trusting science and numbers or trusting the latest conspiracy theory. In other countries, safety for all citizens has taken precedence over individual freedom to come and go when and where a person chooses. Self-quarantine and social distancing are not easy choices for anyone, even for most introverts (once you’re told you can’t go out, the desire to venture seems to appear), but these are the right things for us to do if we want to help limit the spread of the virus, Covid-19.
  • · The stock market has taken an incredibly large dive, which makes living on a fixed income a lot more frightening. The easy thing would be to give in to the panic. The right thing continues to be staying focused on making good spending choices each day and knowing we are not alone.
  • · My country has spent the last several years torn into different factions because of the people who have run for and those who have been elected to office. The easy thing would be for us to all go along to get along, but when something doesn’t sit right with us (on either side of an issue), we often choose to do what we believe is the right thing, and we speak up.

Do you surprise yourself sometimes? Do you find that you become vocal about one or two things, while other meaningful items or causes just don’t ignite your passion? Here’s the thing I want you to hear more than anything else: Be Passionate! Find something that excites your soul and let it bring new life to you. Would you march for it? Would you write a letter with your named signed at the bottom? Would you choose to do the right thing instead of the easy thing? That is your passion, and whatever it is, the world needs you to share your point of view. You might change your opinion one day, and that’s OK, too.

Most of us have one or two people whose stories feed our desire to do the right thing in certain situations, while we might be a little less passionate and just do the easy thing in others. You and I might have different passion today than we had 20 years ago, or than we’ll have 20 years from now.

That’s why I think it’s most exciting when we see different generations embracing the same issues. The stories that have inspired me are those of my great-great-grandmother, Bonnie Jennie.

Her real name was Jane Katherine, but as is common in my mother’s family, people are rarely known by their actual names. She was called Jennie instead of Jane by most everyone, except her grandchildren who called her Bonnie instead of something more grandmotherly.

Bonnie Jennie has held my heart since the day I heard her story. This woman raised three daughters, lost her husband, remarried, moved to Tennessee, was a writer and a poet, and most important to me, she was a member of the Equal Suffrage Society. She spoke up, stood up, and marched for women to have the right to vote. Here in 2020, 100 years after the 19th Amendment was passed, I am especially thankful for her courage. She didn’t seem to ever choose the easy way, but I do believe she made every effort to choose what was right.

If we only do the right thing when it is convenient, that means we are leaving much for someone else to do, while we take the easy way.

Doing the right thing isn’t always about speaking up and standing up for something that ignites a passion, though. What are some ways you can do the right thing instead of the easy thing today?

  • · Put your clothes in the hamper or on hangers instead of dropping them on the floor
  • · Go for a walk instead of playing another game on your computer/phone/television
  • · Prepare a meal that will nourish you instead of opening a bag of chips

You might not always agree with my right way, and that’s OK. Who I am here is exactly who I am everywhere else. I guard my words here because you and I aren’t getting to have a discussion and exchange information. Without a discussion, I would simply be preaching, and that is dangerous and unfair to both of us. I research every topic I write about because I believe that is the right thing to back my writing up with facts. It is not the easy thing to do.

Dark times lie ahead of us. Tearing others down is the easy way. Let’s choose the right way and build some bridges while we navigate these new roads.

Susan Black Steen is a writer and photographer, a native Tennessean and a graduate of Austin Peay State University. With a firm belief that words matter, she writes and speaks to bring joy, comfort and understanding into each life. Always, she writes from her heart in hopes of speaking to the hearts of others.

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