“The night is dark and full of terrors.”
There is plenty to fear in the day as in the night. For people trying to do meaningful work, to combat the evils of the world and score points for kindness and compassion, the limitations of our understanding and the complexities of our motivations are persistent fears that can keep us from making an impact.
We are wise to think critically before we act, especially before we act on behalf of others. The “iron rule” of community organizing–never do for others what they can do for themselves–is a concrete standard we can apply to whatever help we are considering, but it need not prevent us from doing good. Fear of causing harm when we seek to help is instructive, but not if it freezes us.
We are not as good as we hope. But neither are we as bad as we fear.