A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”
We were on our way to the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave in a few hours––the one that would take us to the East Coast for my interview with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
I’m always uptight before we fly, and I was even more so that night, with my interview looming.
We were driving south on Spenard Road after a delicious pre-flight dinner at Ray’s Place. I was driving, and at about 9 p.m. it was dark out.
Mid-conversation Liesl said, “Hey––that guy’s getting beat up––right by the bus stop.”
I have to admit that my first thought was not wanting to miss our flight.
“Pull over,” Liesl said as we got closer to the incident. By the time I pulled to the curb––still in my lane––the assailant had left, leaving only the victim.
Liesl had called 911, and was describing the incident to the dispatcher. She rolled down her window. “Are you OK?” she asked. He mumbled something. “Do you want to talk to the police? I’ve got them on the phone.” He said, “Oh, no, it’s OK, I know that guy, he always picks on me.”
I have to admit that I was feeling distracted by the fact that I was blocking traffic. I could feel the pressure of headlights on my bumper, and expected honking at any moment.
“What’s your name?” Liesl asked, passing along the dispatcher’s request. Believe it or not, his last name was Love.
When we could see that he wasn’t seriously hurt, and with assurances that the police were coming, we drove off.
“I don’t care if he was drunk,” Liesl said. “That’s no excuse to beat someone up. I can’t believe that whole bus full of people saw that happen, and no one did anything.”
I didn’t tell her that, had I been alone, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. And if I had noticed, I’m not sure that I would have stopped.
That’s how it is for some of us. By temperament and training, we’re more likely to “pass by on the other side.”
Some people are content to stay that way, but I’m not. I’m really glad that I live with a justice-seeking, courageous Good Samaritan who’s teaching me to notice, and to act.
Image by Tim Green, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.