Across the Great Divide

Me: Let’s talk about your friends in school. Who are your friends in school?

Kid: No one.

Me: Really? How about the classmate who always play with you?

Kid: No one plays with me.

IMG_0221Human interest stories are rare but largely appreciated these days. I could not forget (and even saved the article) of the young student athlete who sat and ate lunch with a kid with autism in a cafeteria. The photograph shows both of them sitting on the cafeteria table while the other tables are full of kids. In a further tale from the parent of the kid, they were grateful to the famous teen athlete for sitting with their son. Their son apparently didn’t have any friends in school.

While I do not have a family of my own, I could easily relate to the parents’ reactions. I have students who are like that. They can talk really well and can respond really well, but outside the doors of the clinics, they fail miserably to make any friends in their school. The conversation above is the sample of one of those students.

20141228094437.jpgI find it sad to think that even among children, there is a clear divide on who to talk to and who not to. Whether it is about the color of the skin, the peculiarities of their features, or the unnaturalness of their actions, there is a divide, a rift among us.

Come to think of it, even in concepts that are meant to unite us, we are divided. Just look at the state of our politics, and religion. These two concepts were supposed to unite people in a single front but we all end up bickering and arguing against each other.

There was once a man who helped someone on the other spectrum of his beliefs. He helped the man who was helpless on the streets even though he knew that the man had different beliefs. He helped even if he knew that the man on a different situation would avoid and detest him. He helped the man anyway.

Has this happened in our day and age? Rarely and those rare moments are a spectacle for all of us to see.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan, as Jesus tells us, is still relevant today. It talks not just about helping the needy and sick at all times. Rather it talks about the racial divide among Jews and Samaritans which mirrors the any form of divide in our society today. It talks about how most of us are not willing to risk life and limb to help people for fear of getting involved or getting our hands dirty. On the flipside, there are the handful of people who are willing to help when the need arises even to those who are on the opposite faction. Those people are few and rare but they do exist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the priest and the Levite, a man of religious stature, who passed by the man but they opted not to help but just move out of the way. Jesus Christ was describing not just the leaders of their day but also with ours. Men and women of stature and distinction often would rather not care about the plight of the poor and less fortunate. Only a handful would be so kind and loving. Jesus points this out in the parable. We could further reflect that though the priest, an expert on religious law, and a Levite, a participant in religious rites, were not moved with compassion. This becomes clear evidence that the knowledge and mastery of the scriptures are utterly worthless if the love and care for others is totally neglected.

Christ beckons us to be like the Samaritan. We do not need to go far to look for a half-beaten man on the wayside. Our neighbor is always close by. We only need to open our eyes to the need around us. This may not always come in the form of shelling out money but could just be listening to other people’s woes and offer them comfort and support. When we show compassion to everyone, we are fulfilling in essence what God commands for us to do. Compassion is what moved God to write the commandments, it is also compassion that would drive us to do everything.

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