This blog is devoted almost exclusively to homeless issues so far, mostly about homeless veterans and/or homeless youth. Today I want to take a side road to speak out about helping others.
What brought this on was the plight of my son’s mother-in-law when she came too close to having an accident and blew a tire, damaged another and ruined the rim of two wheels on one side.
There she sat on the side of the road waiting for me to come to her aid. She told me that at least 100 cars had passed her already and not one stopped to enquire if she needed help, although she could be seen sitting on her spare from either direction. You can see from the picture I took as I drove up that there is no safety issue for stopping – the shoulder is quite wide.
This is a 2 lane road but it is a major cut-through between two parallel highways and is very busy. The 100 car statement was probably grossly understated.
“And who is my neighbor?”
Now this is the deep south, just out of Atlanta. This is a predominantly Republican community and a predominantly Christian one as well. There is one mosque among hundreds of Christan churches. There are also a smattering of Jewish Temples too, but perhaps 85 percent of the area population are professing Christians. I’m not picking on one religion or another, all of them have “good neighbor” rules, and so do atheists and agnostics. I’m just saying I’m Christian and most of these passerby are likely Christian as well.
And not one of them stopped.
Her problems didn’t stop when I arrived. She had the tire and jack out, but could not find the lug wrench. Someone had apparently taken it out and did not replace it during a recent service call. I went through 3 vehicles and could not find one with a lug wrench that would fit. BMW wheels take a special size wrench and the wrench needs to have a thin wall and lots of strength.
The “free roadside assistance” that came with the car meant at least an hour wait as they were more than 20 miles away in Atlanta Traffic. I had to make a trip to a nearby Big 10 tire store to borrow one. The manager was a good neighbor and did not hesitate to loan a wrench and an extension tube to increase the leverage. It didn’t hurt that they had her in their computer as a customer.
When I had returned to the car she said several hundred more cars had gone by – only one person stopped, a woman. Well, it seems like our area is batting well below a fraction of 1 percent on neighborliness, but now we are up to two good neighbors out of several hundreds of possibilities.
This was my very first indication that an old rule of the south, borrowed from the Boy Scouts – “do a good deed whenever you can” – has gone by the wayside. Every religion that I know of has help-your-neighbor exhortations.
I like the way The Message version of the Bible puts it:
7 When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Deuteronomy 15:7 (The Message)
The more traditional way of saying it is the Golden Rule, which all religions have some form of. Here is the Christian one, from the mouth of Jesus:
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Mathew 7:12 (NIV)
Stated simpy as the ethic of reciprocity: “treat others as you would like to be treated.“
Folks, lets get back to helping others as a way of life. We would all be better off. Even the homeless. Especially the homeless.
Maybe this is on topic after all.