Won’t you be my neighbor?
Neighborliness, kindness and senseless loss have been rolling around my thoughts this weekend. The Gospel reading at church yesterday was the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke. I sat thinking of how ironic and painful it was to hear this story, this lesson, this instruction while thoughts of Trayvon Martin and the outcome of the Zimmerman trial were in everyone’s minds. I hurt so much for Trayvon’s family and am so ashamed that in our wonderful country people still have to worry about the safety of their children based just on their color. Because, try as we might to brotherly love it away, racism is still alive and evilly well in our beautiful country. Sitting in church, I wondered if the outcome would have been different if George Zimmerman had treated Trayvon as a neighbor, instead of a threat. If he had just said, “hello, nice night” would Trayvon be sitting today with his family not even remembering a chance meeting with an older man on his way back from an errand? I can never know. But I do know that the choices that Zimmerman made instead left a hurt behind in one family and in our society that will be a long time healing, if ever.
Choices made when frightened or hurt can ripple out for a long time and in unexpected places. Kindness should be extended outwards AND inwards. Anger can be a destructive emotion, both when directed at others and also at ourselves. Our family lost a young man early Saturday morning. Lost in a senseless car accident fueled, according to the police, by alcohol and excessive speed. One of his passengers was also killed. Another family is in mourning this week. Our young man was lately struggling with certain setbacks and losses and was behaving in ways that distanced himself from those that wanted to love and help him. If only he had been able to accept that love, that neighborliness. If only he had been able to treat himself with kindness. He had made great strides in separating himself from an early life that wasn’t fulfilling and healthy for him. He had succeeded in finding a place for himself in the real world. He was young (25) and healthy and intelligent. But it seems that he couldn’t recognize his accomplishments and advancements he’d made in such a short time. I think that he could only acknowledge what he saw as his own failures.
Two people making bad choices - anger, suspicion, fear, despair - over the good choices of neighborliness, kindness and love. And the undulations of those choices will flow out to hurt us all, in one way or another, whether we knew them or not.