A Reminder to Err on the Side of Compassion

The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is one of the most common Sunday school lessons taught to children. Even the youngest elementary school kids can grasp the concept of helping out others in need, especially those ignored by passers-by who should know better.

The lesson was lost on far too many people last Tuesday in the nation’s capital. A man was recorded being beaten on a grocery store video camera. That in itself might not have even made the news in Washington, D.C. However what happened, or rather what didn’t happen, is cause for concern.

The man lay on the ground for nearly 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived. During this time, countless numbers of pedestrians and cars passed by. On the way down from being hit, the man appears to have hit his head on the side of the SUV parked in the street. The driver of the car loaded up his groceries and drove away without any regard to the injured man. The beaten man subsequently died as a result of his injuries.

One of the eyewitnesses claimed the dispute was over a can of beer.

This incident reminded me of my own experience while working in D.C. 12 years ago. I recall walking around a corner and surprisingly being confronted by a man lying on the concrete, staring up and seizing. In this instance passers-by had moved him away from the building’s columns and given him the needed open space. Cell phones had been drawn. The paramedics arrived rapidly.

Has the city changed that much in a short period of time?

Much like the man by the side of the road in the parable, the right person needed to come by to address the suffering. The simple and needed reminder in this instance is to prepare yourself to act with compassion over indifference.

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