It is in vogue for Presidential contenders to out-do each other with more extreme ways of saying “no” to Syrian refugees. When making sure the vetting process was not enough, Trump simply said we should stop accepting them altogether. When Christie needed to cut through the noise, he made it explicit that even toddlers were a risk. Meanwhile the French, even in the aftermath of the attacks on their soil, are continuing to accept refugees. This brings to mind for me Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s meditation on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
In the parable, Jesus tells us of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who gets beaten, robbed and left for dead. The dying man is passed by a priest, and than a Levite, both of whom continue on their way, refusing to render assistance. Then a Samaritan, always a strange choice for a hero in Biblical stories, came to the man, helped him to safety and paid for his care. Jesus calls upon us to be like that Samaritan.
Dr. King’s speech, I’ve Been to the Mountaintop references the parable;
I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing.
You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road.
In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”
But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Several candidates who would be our President, several governors are calling on us to ask what will become of us. Meanwhile the French, who have recent experience with what could happen, are reminding us that we need to reverse the question.