National turmoil, a wake-up call for understanding and compassion– going beyond “sending thoughts and prayers.”
The Good Samaritan, the gospel story tells us, had compassion on the thieves’ victim and was thus moved to take action and rescue the man. The others walked on, unwilling to interrupt their lives. The Samaritan surely asked himself, “What will happen to this man if I don’t stop and help?”
For us today, “compassion” involves churning up feelings, and that was the intent of the recent demonstrations and prayer meetings for both the civilian and the police victims. All that may be necessary, but feelings come and go.
Moving us and others to take action, that takes understanding.
For one, it requires acknowledging the inequalities in our society. The proverbial “broken tail light” is symptomatic of the conditions of the poor who have to choose between getting this minor repair done or buying gas to get to work that day or food for dinner that night.
The escalating interaction with the police during what would be a routine traffic stop reflects the cultural war zone in which some of our fellow citizens live.
We must first recognize/understand that the poor and marginalized live in a very different world – almost a foreign country – than the one inhabited by middle class Americans. These days, even the latter are struggling, stressed to maintain the lives they are used to. But the poor face a more critical challenge daily: surviving!
With understanding, hopefully we will be moved by compassion to ask ourselves: What’s going to happen if I don’t stop and help? The good Samaritan – a stand-in figure for Christ – took action. So must we.