We Don’t Need Good Samaritans, We Need Great Ones

By | Sep 24, 2012

Good Samaritan ArtworkOne quick encounter became the inspiration to perform courageous acts of compassion for generations. That guy from Samaria, famously known as the Good Samaritan, picked up a hurting man along the side of the road to help him. That hurting man was the “enemy,” from another tribe, another religion.

It would be like Romeo’s mother helping Juliet’s father. A Crip helping a Blood. Perhaps an Apple executive helping a Samsung executive?

I’m sure in today’s world, that Good Samaritan’s act of compassion would have been posted on YouTube, tweeted all over the world, and broadcast on CNN. At the very least, he would have gotten his 15 minutes of fame.

Today, people with the courage to help even their enemies are needed more than ever, with hundreds of thousands of homeless neighbors struggling on America’s streets.

With a society that has become less family-centric, instead of family rallying around hurting family members, more people are falling through the social cracks. In today’s economy, whole families are struggling, not just individuals.

With the worst economy since the Great Depression lingering in our country, no longer can families survive with just one wage earner. You can kiss the “Father Knows Best” model of family goodbye, except for maybe in America’s top five percent.

Most families can barely survive with two wage earners. No wonder single-parent families are ending up on the streets today.

You would think, with so many individuals and families living in shelters, vehicles, and on the streets, this country would rally behind some sort of national Good Samaritan effort to help them. Instead, like a polarized national political campaign, we typically resort to arguing over philosophy and methods.

Too often, help comes with strings attached. Do we only help the people who help themselves? If they abstain from substance abuse, then they can be housed. If they pray our prayers, follow our political views, or even renounce their same sex attractions, then we will help them.

Or do we help everyone, even those who are still struggling with addiction? If they are actively using, should we still be willing to help them find a safe place to live?

Many people respond to America’s homelessness by debating who should be helped. Or how to help them.

Provide a person with supportive services first in order to prepare him or her for permanent housing? Or give that person a home first? Services first, or housing first?

With the crisis of homelessness persisting across the country for decades, we need more Samaritans. But not just good ones. We need great ones. Samaritans that provide solutions instead of arguments.

For decades, good Samaritans have fed the hungry and sheltered those without homes. They were doing God’s work for people stranded on the side of the road.

Today, however, we need Great Samaritans who are willing to raise their level of compassion.

A Good Samaritan is compassionate. A Great Samaritan gives a stranger enough empowerment to live independently without the need for further compassionate acts.

A Good Samaritan provides short-term, temporary assistance. A Great Samaritan gives help that lasts a lifetime.

Good is feeding people so they won’t go hungry on the streets. Great is helping someone get into an apartment so that their homelessness is ended permanently.

Let the historians of our generation write about how thousands of Great Samaritans were courageous enough to overcome philosophical differences in order to end homelessness permanently.


Photo by Ted.

One Comment

  1. Keith Bender
    Posted Oct 16, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    The courage to change the things we can is maybe a philosophical difference if that is a common definition we could agree with. The word spiritual is the word I would use instead since compassion is included in the conversation. That thing we can change is ourselves. And that is difficult to consider when caught up in the rhythm of daily habits designed to keep our own lives balanced. Most of our middle class is caught in the Housing Affordability squeeze especially if they have children. That desire to change and improve the lives of immediate family may have a great number of preoccupied people already with this Economic meltdown and it's "impending" concerns. I believe more People want to help if they could but need to know what the "PATH" to Housing is that works and will succeed is. Enough fear hides beneath the surface which is preventing forward action and momentum.

    The pure number of individual problems is quickly overwhelming for most. It is for me if i identify all the unfinished and unattended concerns about myself and compassion becomes a nice word but not a practice. The idea that we are somehow pursuing happiness in an "American Dream" format preoccupies our collective mind or at least seems that way. 10 year Plans offer the confidence we seek in a solution oriented focus but still collides with what it costs as a barrier with limited Federal funding in the near future and beyond. The words we use require agreement up front before concerns like cost and price seep in. Political Spin has been attacking these same words creating the stigma's we encounter. Welfare, Wealth, Social contract, Rights, even equality and freedom can not be taken for granted. Spiritual instead of or in addition to Philosophical because the purpose of SPIN is influence and that is what we would hope to accomplish if changing our world is what we agree is needed.

    This "Inside Job" means we look closely at ourselves and not the People we think we are pretending to help. I believe we have allowed Homelessness to be an accepted social ill is because our Housing Affordability is based on Profits and not the Universal need we all share. In our quest for higher and higher profits we have limited our horizon of possibilities by thinking we have an infallible basis as our foundation. The concentration of Wealth currently a topic of this Presidential Race proves that the Vertical collection that "Owns" ,controls much of our resources , makes the case in point. We have nearly tipped our way into a lopsided anemia .

    Without a firm grasp of what our "Pauperty Rights " are we will never be able to protect them. California has a Declaration of Rights that has similarities with The Va. Declaration of Rights. Read no further that the first 3 or 4 Rights of each and the "Declaration of Independence" quickly dwindles to a simple introductory document at best. One says "good luck" while the other says "You have good luck". To Pursue and Obtain Happiness and Safety along with the means of ACQUIRING and POSSESSING PROPERTY does not fall short like the sacred document which is our Declaration of Independence does. Thats "In your face" simplicity which will probably require a Court Ruling to drive that point in. Hidden "RIGHT" in front of us.