The story of the Good Samaritan is a parable that is ascribed to Jesus. ( Luke 10: 25–37 ). This narrative describes a traveler who is on a dangerous road. Here the man is robbed and beaten by assailants and is left for dead. At this point, the Samaritan finds the injured man lying on the road. This occurs after two previous fellow travelers, a priest and a Levite, by-pass the injured man and go on their way.

Where is the empathy?

Samaritans were not viewed in high-esteem in first century Hellenistic Judaism. The majority culture viewed Samaritans on par with the current negative attitude expressed by some people towards immigrants.

Jesus is attributed to have said:

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 35–37 )

So, we have a mandate here to show mercy. Just like another mandate

34You must treat the foreigner living among you as native-born and love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. ( Leviticus 19: 34 )

How come we don’t see this mandate practiced now?

Our current environment is marked by the attitude:

“I’ve got mine. Sorry you don’t have yours “

Some political leaders model a philosophy being that there are “winners and losers.” Everything is a deal and there is no consideration for anyone else especially if it interrupts personal selfish gain.

When did it become unfashionable to demonstrate empathy and charity? The current proceedings remind one of a giant reality television show, sort of like Survivor, i.e., when someone will be thrown off the island.

When everything and everyone is perceived as adversarial, when the landscape is covered with nothing but vipers ready to strike at one another, no one wins; the reptiles end up killing each other !

Bob Dylan has noted:

“ So many roads, so much at stake
 Too many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
 Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
 To find dignity.”

I heartily resonate with this sentiment. What is it going to take for all of us citizens to find dignity and worth in one another as this current national tragedy of shutdown continues ?

Dylan again reminds us:

“So when you see your neighbor carryin’ somethin’
 Help him with his load
 And don’t go mistaking Paradise
 For that home across the road. “

We need to be about charity not miserly meanness.

We need to help people live their lives, not shutdown their dreams and aspirations and reduce them to heartache and hopelessness.

We can do better.

May it be so.