One 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.