How to deal with creepy strangers

Melissa asks: Today after school me and my friends were sitting in the train station talking, when suddenly a bunch of men appeared and gave us problems, assaulting us. Both my friends were angry but I was calm when the man told me he so-called “loved” me. I said, “I love you too.” I even talked to the man who was bothering me to find out why he was doing this. Most people say you need to avoid such. Was I right to talk to them? Did I act in a right way?

Hi Melissa –


There are decisions in life where the answer is based on morality.  Is it right to insult a helpless person?  Is it right to hit a baby?  Is it right to kick a puppy?  (I’ll give you a hint about me – I’m going to say “No” in each of these cases!)


But other times, the answer of what is “right” is based on the result of the action.  The easiest example is something we’ve seen in tons of stories, where a ticking time bomb is reduced to two wires , one blue and one red.  If you leave them as they are, it will go off in thirty seconds and kill you and everyone around you.  If you cut one wire, it will blow up right away.  If you cut the other, you’ll defuse the bomb and save everyone.  But there’s no way of knowing which is which.  What’s the right thing to do?

Well, the only way to know is to choose a wire and cut it.  And you’ll find out very quickly whether you chose the right one or not!


As I see it, Melissa, you were in a “time bomb” situation.  You didn’t know these men, and neither did your friends.  You wanted to be safe, to not be hurt by them.  Maybe ignoring them would have made them leave you alone, and maybe it would have angered them and they would have harassed you in a worse way.  Maybe yelling at them to go away would have gone well, or very not.  And maybe being friendly and curious would work, or not.


Well you chose the latter, and it worked.  So, as with cutting the red or blue wire, you made the right  decision.  Now does that mean you should always do what you did?  Probably not.  So I’m not going to say you’re exactly right or that your friends are.  Except to say that what this incident showed is who you really are:  You are brave, and you are kind.


Maybe someday you’ll suffer something badly because of your kindness and bravery.  But in this particular case, it worked out well, for all of you.


And as you grow and mature, you’re going to find something out, Melissa.  The you that shows up when the facts aren’t known is what gets called Character.  You showed your character.  And being true to that character is a great virtue.


So my full answer to your question is twofold:  Is it always right to treat odd, maybe crazy, lecherous strangers, with kindness and curiosity?  No.  Sometimes you should probably run like blazes from them.


But if you live a life based on your best strengths, and show love and kindness and curiosity to all, until the point where they threaten or frighten you, will that be a good thing?




That’ll be a GREAT thing.


So keep it up.  Be safe, but keep it up.


With enormous respect,


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