I saw two young children yesterday walking home from somewhere, as it was getting dark. I almost didn't see them; they were dressed in dark clothes, and walking along the side of a fairly busy county highway in Two Rivers, WI. I was on my way to pick up my daughter from piano and voice lessons.

I was struck immediately by several thoughts. The first was, "Boy, they were hard to see. Don't they know to wear light clothes when walking outside in the dark?" But I also noticed that one of the boys was wearing only a tee shirt under his backpack. At this time of year, that is not very advisable. Yesterday, it was around forty degrees F. outside, and windy. There was also a dampness in the air.

The second-last thought that occured to me was that I should offer these two children a ride. Can you guess what the last thought was?

If you guessed that I didn't offer them a ride because I was worried that it might look as if I was a child predator by merely offering them a safe way home, then you are right on the mark. And rightly so, if these children have been taught by their parents, they would have refused such an offer. I myself have coached my daughter to do the same thing. After all, you just never know who is offering you a ride.

Isn't that a sad remark on our way of life?

I can't even offer a ride to two children who are walking on a country rode, one of them clearly not dressed for the weather? In fact, I don't even bother to ask, because I believe they know better than to accept a ride from a stranger? And this is right?

If this is right, then it is a very sad remark on our society indeed.

When does it become acceptable again to offer the ride, and for the children to accept? Do we have to wait until they are freezing? Does the temperature have to dip below zero with a windchill of minus twenty degrees F? At what point, in other words, is it again right to do what I consider to be the right thing to begin with?

There are very, scary creatures within our society; I know this. We have had our own evil perpetrated within ten miles of my house in the last year; a case that made national news.

But is this the mark we leave from our generation; that it's no longer acceptable to offer a friendly gesture, even a parental gesture, to children who don't even know enough to dress in light colors if they will be walking outside after dark?

My heart mourns for such a world, yet my mind has already been brainwashed into believing that things must be this way, because you just never know.

We are no longer a neighborhood nation. We are no longer a completely safe place to live, at least not for children.

I am ashamed that I didn't stop and ask; and yet I sit here as I type this, and I wonder; what else can I have done? Do you know? Is there any answer to this?

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