We Would Help Them . . . Wouldn’t We?

Earlier this week the family watched the show, “What would you Do?” In this edition, they had a group of college students (actors) publicly hazing fraternity pledges. In one scene, they tied a student to a light pole with plastic wrap and a passerby took out a pocketknife and cut him loose. When it appeared to be going too far, people stepped up and got involved. They repeated the bit with sorority girls and surprisingly, people did not get involved—many simply watched.

In another part of the program, they showed a young, attractive, nicely dressed woman collapse on a busy sidewalk. They ran the experiment many times and people came to her aid within five seconds every time. However, when they repeated the experiment, using what looked like a homeless man; people were far less responsive. While the actor lay on the sidewalk for almost twenty minutes, a homeless woman, powerless to do anything, asked passersby to call for help repeatedly. One man actually stopped and slipped a piece of cardboard under his head (better than walking on by I suppose.)

I heard or read a story some years ago about a child who, upon hearing the story of Mary and Joseph being turned away from the Inn in Bethlehem, said to his mother, “We would help them, wouldn’t we?” We would all like to think that, faced with situations like these; we would step up and do the right thing. A friend commented on Facebook this week that she wished John Quinones (the host of “What Would You Do?”) would come to her town and test her. In our living rooms, it’s easy to know what we would do.

We lived in some apartments many years ago and early on a Saturday morning I heard a child crying outside. I stepped out on the patio and looked down in the courtyard. Wearing only a diaper and t-shirt with no shoes, a toddler stood—lost, cold and scared. I ran down and tried to talk to him, but he wasn’t old enough to tell me anything beyond crying for his mommy.

I was afraid to pick him up. I was afraid to take him into our apartment, but I knew I had to help him. (I know it sounds like a no brainer, but we live in a time where things are complicated.) So I took him by the hand and we walked through the property. I found an apartment with the door standing open; a woman was sprawled on the couch while another baby screamed in a playpen. I knocked on the door and when she woke up, she was mad at me for having her son. I explained that I found him wondering in another section of the complex. She took the boy, scolded him and slammed the door.

We see people all the time that need our help, whether they deserve it or not. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We would help them, wouldn’t we?

telemicus out

3 Responses to We Would Help Them . . . Wouldn’t We?

  1. Jonathan says:

    Poignant question.

    Yesterday an obviously hungry man walked up to my wife and I as we were putting our groceries in our trunk and just grabbed a bag and started helping. Our first reaction was fear, shock, and bewilderment but realized quickly his intent was not to harm but to offer something in exchange for spare change.

    Your question resonates loudly as I reflect on my response yesterday.

    Thanks for the post.


  2. Eric Hanson says:

    This kind of thing shines a whole new light on the Good Samaritan parable. A lot of us think that it’s a no-brainer to help the guy but, in real life, there are many fears (a.k.a. “common sense”) which help rationalize our inaction.

    Interesting tidbit: There are parts of the world where Good Samaritan laws are non-existent. That is to say, if you provide aid to a person in need and something happens to him while in your care, YOU will be held responsible. The result is that people go without CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, etc. The person who told me this lives in Dubai, but I’d imagine it’s fairly common throughout the world and, I believe, a fairly new concept even here in the States.

    We Americans have that protective law, but we find other reasons not to help. It’s obstacles like these which discourage us from doing right. Apparently though, Jesus doesn’t consider them to be legitimate excuses.

  3. Terri says:

    This reminds me of two of my favorite quotes:

    “It is important to see the value of those considered worthless by others” unknown

    “The measure of life, afterall, is not it’s duration, but it’s donation.”
    Corrie Ten Boom

    We should consider people the way God considers sin. A sin is a sin is a sin. Whether it’s lying, stealing, cheating, etc., in God’s eye, they are all the same. Equal.
    So are people. No one is better than another. A person is a person is a person. WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD.
    Are we more afraid of worldly laws than we are of the laws of God??? We need to get our priorities in order. We don’t help because we might be held responsible? We are responsible. God said so.
    Let’s open our heart’s so that God’s unconditional Love shines out. Compliment someone; actually look a homeless person in the eye; happily give of your time, talents, and funds. People are worth it. You are worth it. What a valuable gift. It costs nothing, but the rewards are PRICELESS!

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