We’ve all heard the term “Good Samaritan”. For those of you who don’t know where it originates, here is the story:
Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
— Luke 10:30–37, World English Bible
Now please, no comments on religion. This is the story I grew up with and I’m passing it along. It lays the foundation for the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you’d have done to you.” But, how many of us actually Follow It?
There’s so much corruption and evil in the world, so much fear. The self-serving. I can tell you that I, as a woman, alone in a car, can see someone on the side of the road that I want to give a lift to but do I? No, I’m too afraid. It doesn’t matter whether it’s male or female. Not that I haven’t done it before, I have, but it’s few and far between and when I have done it, my spidey senses were heightened beyond belief. Does it make me a bad person or a smart person not to do it more often? Sure, I’ll do the benign acts: hold a door open, help carry something to a car, babysit, dog-sit, take a dish to, or run an errand for, a sick friend.
Where, though, is the line drawn between what makes a Good Samaritan versus a Hero? I think it crosses the line more than you think. A Hero as described in Wikipedia is “… a hero(male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.” For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the phrase “moral excellence”.
Yesterday I met a couple of guys who some would refer to as Good Samaritans but, to me, they were Heroes. I was coming back from North Carolina, a short jaunt for me from my hometown in Virginia Beach, when a tire blew out while I was driving 55 mph and I mean it BLEW – not just go flat – shredded. Of course on one of the busiest roads in the area, and of course, it was 94 degrees outside. I’m not all girlie-girl. I know how to change a tire but have never had to do it and don’t want to test my knowledge if I don’t have to – that’s what I have AAA for. And, I’d never had one in the vehicle I was driving. I knew the spare was affixed to the underneath carriage in the rear of my SUV but no clue how to get it out.
Now I don’t know how many people are familiar with the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There’s one road in and one road out and yep, that’s the road I was on AND it was Saturday morning – prime check-in time for all the rented beach cottages. Bumper to bumper traffic for 35 miles from where I had stopped. If you’ve ever been to LA or seen their traffic, this was a mirror image. Only reason I’m telling you this is because imagine moseying along at 5 mph heading down for a relaxing vacation by the seashore and you see this poor schlup in the opposite lane as you pass her by. The quick glances towards me, their eyes darting back ahead not wanting to acknowledge me and risk getting jinxed. You know what’s going through their minds – please don’t let that happen to me! Fortunately, I’m the kind of person that it really takes A LOT to get me bummed out. I can find the humor in most anything. My niece who was riding with me, on the other hand – she’s the opposite. We’re Ying and Yang in this regard. I’m chuckling watching the nonplussed looks on all the tourists looking at us as they drift by which pisses her off that I’m not being more serious about our situation, and, when I see her scowl and start listening to her whining well, I couldn’t help myself, I started laughing my ass off (let me tell you, that didn’t enhance her mood one..bit..). If I had called AAA, I knew it would take them at least two hours to get there so I tell her to call her buff boyfriend to come rescue us, which she is more than glad to do.
We had been sitting there for ten minutes when this truck pulling a john boat pulled over and these two guys got out. “Need some help?” I chatted them up while they changed the tire, they were coming back from having fished all morning. Only having caught a few, they decided to call it an early day. Their bad fishing luck, my good fortune. When they were done, I headed home – my niece’s boyfriend met us halfway to check my spare and follow us back to ensure the spare, which didn’t look to be in great shape, didn’t go flat. Another hero.
So there’s my Saturday adventure and my story for the heroes that were in my life yesterday.
Each of us can be a Hero. To another, or, to a creature. I’ve got a friend I was driving behind one evening after dinner and I watched her stop her car on a neighborhood street – the cars behind me honking at her to go. She gets out of the car, paying no attention to the other drivers, and coaxes a dog that was running in the middle of the street to come to her and puts him in the car with her. To that dog, she was a Hero. (And if you want to know the end of the story: She got in touch with the dog’s owner. Turns out the owner didn’t want the dog and the cute terrier, now known as Harry, lives with her parents and sleeps with her Mom every night. Contented, happy, loved.)
The bottom line is you don’t have to go out and risk your life to be considered a hero. Sometimes just a smile or a small gesture will do the trick for that other person or creature.
I hope you will wake up in the morning and decide to be a hero to someone you pass along the way. It could be as big as changing their/it’s life or as simple as changing a moment in time. Either way, you will create a forever memory for both of you.
Go. Do. Be That Someone’s Hero.