Monday 20 February 2017

The Good Samaritan Luke 10v 29-37

A woman was going from Birmingham to London on Virgin trains. The train pulled up with half the carriages it should’ve had, so 10 carriages of people piled onto a 5 carriage train. The conductor announced people who had saved seats should be given them. The woman's seat was occupied by a white man who refused to move and turned to his son and said “Don’t worry about it”! The woman was the one who was worried standing from Birmingham to London! An Asian student sitting nearby tapped her on the shoulder and offered her his seat. At first she refused but then accepted his offer. He was a student going from Birmingham to Coventry. The man in front spoke loudly about how lucky he was to have a seat.  Which of these do you think was a neighbour to the woman? Jesus says go and do likewise.

Shirin a volunteer at our  Welcome Project asked me if I thought she would be able to travel to the U.S. With her Muslim name? I'm not sure. Claris a member at the Handsworth Community choir told me that 188 of her sons  colleagues who work for Google were affected by the ban. This ban by Trump affects up to 90,000 people from 7 countries and that doesn’t include dual nationality people. How many people from these countries have been involved in terrorist acts in US? 

But what about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates who were not included, even though a report from the Cato Institute showed that these three countries were the point of origin for people responsible for 94.1 percent of American deaths due to terrorist attacks in the U.S. Eighteen of the 19 people responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks also hailed from those three countries. Why were they excluded? 65.3 million displaced people globally. Of those 21.3 million are refugees. 107, 100 were resettled. Most refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Countries taking in the most refugees are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan. 

How many refugees has American taken in 2016?  84,995. (.026% of its population)  How many did the UK take? 23,000 (.035881% of our population). How many did Lebanon take?

"The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.” [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 11]

Hitler's view was that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for the hardships faced by Germans during and after WWI, and that lebensraum, or living space required for the expansion and continuation of a nation, was necessary for the survival of the German people. He decided that the best plan of action would be to eliminate every Jewish citizen, and then expand Germany into Poland and Russia. He twisted his own racism and goals of political achievement into a hatred of one race of people, blaming them for all of Germany's then issues. Then he planned and executed the Holocaust, leaving millions dead after subjecting them to the brutal torture of concentration camps and death camps. Of course, the separation, segregation, and persecution didn't happen overnight. Hitler slowly singled out every Jewish citizen through tactics such as requiring that they wear a yellow Star of David attached to their clothes, referring to the Jewish citizens as enemies of Germany, and moving entire communities into ghettos.

Trump has called Mexican immigrants as well as other immigrants "rapists" and "killers," and plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and suggested a database to keep tabs on all Muslim-Americans in the United States. He is restricting 90K plus Muslims entering the United States until authorities can "figure out what's going on." If you read his position on immigration reform, you'll immediately notice the blatant racist content. He stated that if Mexico doesn't want to pay for the wall, he will do something "severe." 

He made derogatory comments about Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge.

“First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me” Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)

This week the UK did not protest against Trumps actions but secured safe passage for British passport holders. 

Fifty years ago the writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt witnessed the end of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major figures in the organisation of the Holocaust. Covering the trial Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil".  What did she really mean?

Her argument was that Eichmann failed to think about the crime he was committing. 

Arendt wondered whether a new way of behaving had arisen with national socialism, one in which humans implemented policy, but no longer reflected on what they were doing.  

Arendt was trying to understand the Nazi genocide – in order to understand a crime against humanity, the destruction of Jews, Gypsies, gay people, communists, the disabled and the ill. It had been an attack not only on those specific groups, but on humanity itself. 

A crime against humanity had become "banal" because it was committed in a daily way, systematically, without being named and opposed. The crime had become accepted, routinised, and implemented without moral revulsion and political indignation and resistance.

What had become banal was the failure to think.  The consequence of non-thinking is genocidal, or can be.

 Eichmanns failure was  to be critical, a failure to take distance from the requirements that law and policy imposed upon him; in other words, she faults him for his obedience, his lack of critical distance, and his failure to think.

Eichmann argued he was acting from obedience. He formulated and executed orders  He invoked "duty". He also acknowledges that once he was charged with the task of carrying out the final solution, he no longer 'was master of his own deeds,' and … he 'was unable to change anything'."

Eichmann believed that he should act in a way that the Führer would approve.

This Nazi interpretation uncritically supported a criminal legal code and fascist regime.

The story of the Good Samaritan is about not protecting just your own. Humanity is much bigger than white families, black or Asian families, or UK citizens or protecting America. 

The man who was beaten up was powerless. But his presence provoked a reaction, from the religious and from an outsider from another religion.The priest and the Levite were the good guys, regular church attenders, respected in the community.  But the presence of the man beaten up showed a deeper side to them. They were superficial. Their religion was skin deep. Piety.

Worst than that Jesus says they were people who were not a neighbour, they  did not love their neighbour.  

So what about us?  Are we are people according to the words of Jesus who do not "Go and do likewise."  Are we the the ones who pass by on the other side.  Are we are the ones who are unwilling to be changed by the presence of people who challenge us?   Where are we relative to the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbour as ourselves?

The sad part is that both the priest and the Levite "saw the man" and deliberately chose not to help him.  Im guessing we often all pass by on the other side. 

If we don’t love our neighbour then we are like the man left for dead. We are dead and we leave others left for dead.  We must be like the Good Samaritan, love our neighbour, and reflect Jesus' directive to "Go and do as he did."



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