Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Good Samaritan

In the introduction to The Green Bible, J. Matthew Sleeth, M.D. writes:

None of Christ's teachings offers better instruction on how to care for all of God's creation than the parable of the Good Samaritan....

The parable demonstrates a continuum of compassion.  The priest represents those of us who refuse to take any responsibility for environmental problems.  We close out eyes and walk on by.  The second passerby, the Levite, is like most of us.  He sees the problem, then says: "I should get back to Jerusalem and raise awareness.  Maybe I'll blog on the problem of highway muggings or send a letter off to the Roman centurion about beefing up patrols and installing better streetlights."  Like the Levite, we see the hardship caused by environmental problems, particularly for the poorest among us.  Our hearts are moved to compassion, but we do little, if anything, to help.  Only the Samaritan, the one who is least likely to view the mugged man as his neighbor, takes action. 

What does this parable teach us about how we should approach environmental problems today?
  • to have any lasting effect, our hearts must be moved by compassion
  • we may find it dangerous
  • we may have to use our own resources
  • it may be inconvenient
  • it may be expensive
  • we may be ridiculed
  • we will have to take ongoing responsibility
  • everyone is our neighbor, including people across the globe and future generations
All of these lessons apply directly to our environmental problems today.  However, I believe that the most important lesson of the Good Samaritan--the one that can separate us from the priest and Levite--is that we must "get off our donkey" before we can become part of the solution.

How are you 'getting off your donkey'?

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