What I’m about to tell is not something I’m particularly proud of. It happened this past week while riding my bicycle around White Rock Lake. Pausing briefly at a water fountain to rehydrate I noticed an older model pickup truck limping into a nearby parking lot with a flat tire. Giving it only a passing glance I continued on my way. But something haunted me the further away I rode and has continued to ever since, for out of the corner of my eye it seemed that the driver emerging from his truck appeared frustrated, perhaps even a little desperate. Still I moved on, too busy to turn back, my exercise program too important to be disrupted, needing to get home in time to enjoy a cool drink and a late afternoon dip in the pool – no time to stop and help.
The story of the Good Samaritan which is universally and indisputably held up as the model for human response to such circumstances smacked me right in the face, I being the one who passed on by leaving the poor victim stranded and alone. But, why? I wish I could say it was out of fear of putting myself in danger, but since it was broad daylight in a very public place that’s not an excuse. Nor was it apathy or lack of compassion, otherwise I would not be suffering such guilt. No, I have to confess that the real reason is because it might be messy, for getting involved in someone else’s life is inevitably messy, and that would disrupt my own important schedule.
Sometimes I think we expend more energy on creating orderliness in our lives than anything else we do. We like things to be neat and tidy, not messy. It provides us a sense of predictability and security, and we avoid at all cost anything that might disrupt that – including stopping to help a stranger in distress. Yet, there is no human act more generous. It is far easier to dig a few bucks out of our pockets or give away some old clothes out of our closets than it is to disrupt our precious orderly lives.
I can only hope that some Good Samaritan came along to help that poor gentleman. It could have been me, though. I had my chance, but I chose to pass on by – and it still haunts me.