The Good Samaritan

Sometimes when I write a blog post, I ask questions that I already (think) I know the answers to. This is not one of those posts. This is me processing "out loud" with no definitive conclusions other than those I might stumble upon in the process of writing. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about the story of the Good Samaritan. I love this story. I am one of those kids who grew up in Christian schools my whole life, so this is a story that has been with me since childhood. It is so easy to fall in love with the idea that the outsiders, the marginalized, the unclean can actually be "good". Can make a difference in the lives of others. Might have greater moral standing than ever expected. Can be capable of love. Compassion. Grace. As a black child in a mostly white school (where most of the other black children in my class were boys), this story spoke to me. Despite the things that made me different, I was still capable of goodness, and was always capable of that goodness whether others wanted to recognize it or not. Yes, I loved this story. And I also realized that I was not immune from creating boundaries around who was "in" and who was "out". So, challenging my relationships by asking the question, "who is my neighbor" was relevant in childhood and is relevant in my life today. 

But this story is evolving for me. 

Rather than looking at the Good Samaritan, I have been thinking a lot about this broken man who needed the compassion of the Samaritan. Am I crazy, or is that also pretty revolutionary? 

What does it mean for us that the beaten man needed the Samaritan? Needed him to walk by. Needed him to bend down. Needed him to offer shelter. Needed him to pay for healing care. 

Is a key moment in racial reconciliation, not when the broken man realizes the Samaritan is his neighbor, not when the broken man realizes the Samaritan is capable of goodness, not when the broken man realizes no one else has stopped, but instead is it when the broken man realizes he is broken and in need of the Samaritan for healing?  

I ask because when I lead classes and trainings, it is not uncommon to find white people practicing reconciliation from a place of anger over systemic injustice. Or from a place of guilt and shame derived from white privilege. Or from a place of pity for the poor and disenfranchised. So many emotions. And not necessarily bad places to begin. What I wonder though, is how much growth happens when white people realize they are broken? 

What happens when white people realize that injustice doesn't just weigh down poor people, or black people or immigrant people or trafficked people-- but that the injustice in the world creates brokenness in them?

I don't mean a deriding, sarcastic, making fun of whiteness. I don't mean a childish "what-you-say-bounces-off-of-me-and-sticks-to-you". I am trying to dig for a profound sense of brokenness in which there is a realization that white privilege is harmful to white people's identity. That it is living a lie, breaking the spirit, weighing on the soul. I mean a deep sense of sorrow from generations of systematically denying the humanity of others and thereby destroying ones own humanity. I mean a sense of losing lifeblood from being unable to fully experience the Trinitarian God who dwells in relationship with distinct others. 

Is it possible that the Good Samaritan isn't only about neighbors, but about recognition of brokenness so deep that there is a life-or-death sense of needing one another?

I wonder. 

Austin Brown5 Comments