I need help these days. Help being willing to see the good in other people. Help being kind. Help quelling anger.
I need help. I need it bad.
I don’t think it’s always been this way. A liberal by most any measure, I’ve been around people who think differently all my life. But we worked it out.
I grew up in Floyd County, forever a politically conservative bastion in the Southwest Virginia mountains.
I went to Hampden-Sydney College, with a student body that was all male (still is), all white (until that one first Black student was accepted my junior year), and heavily conservative.
I lived nearly a quarter century in Hanover County, deep red on the political map.
For more than five decades, I’ve spent time around stock car racing as a reporter/writer. And though the sport’s population defies many of its stereotypes, as a group that population certainly leans right.
Here’s the thing – in countless cases from the time I was a little boy to now when I’m an old man, the people I have known are people I have respected, admired, even loved. I know plenty of folks from all those experiences who disagree severely with my view of the world, and I know they are good people. Kind people. Wonderful people.
And, yet, I am angry with so many of those same people. I’ve lost sight of things that must be true about them. I’ve lost any inclination to extend kindness to them.
In an effort to extract myself from that state of mind, I’ve been thinking about Christ’s story of the Good Samaritan as related in the Gospel of Luke.
You know the story. Robbed and beaten, a man lies by the road. A priest and a Levite, stereotypically virtuous types, pass the poor fellow by.
Along comes the Samaritan. In Christ’s time and place, a Samaritan was supposed to be less likely to do the right thing. But it’s the Samaritan who comes to the aid of the beaten man, salves his wounds, takes him to a safe place and arranges to pay for his care.
So, I tried to think -- can’t I just look for opportunities to help, and when I find those opportunities extend my help? Can’t I be a Good Samaritan and, through my kindness, bind up the wounds of those who need the help and, in the process, heal the rifts between us?
Thing is, I stumbled on my way to that solution. And in part, it’s because I think that darned Good Samaritan had an unfair advantage. He did not have any idea who the beaten man was.
He did not know if the man had been an abusive bully, or a relentless racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a dangerous fool whose wrongheadedness threatens others. The Good Samaritan hadn’t seen the wounded man’s recent social media posts.
I’m trying to find ways to extend acts of kindness to people I know, people who can be described by some of those terms above.
Must I? Should I? How can I?
We thank Randy Hallman for such an honest reflection. We hope to feature writings from church friends and family in this space each week of Lent. If you would like to participate, please flag down Alfred Walker or email firstname.lastname@example.org .