Mawrter advises meeting neediness with kindness
By biconews On 8 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Susanna Thomas

Dear members of the community,

This Monday I slipped on the ice of Route 30’s sidewalk and sprained my knee. In itself this is unremarkable; the knee is fine now, thank you. However, what surprised me was the reactions of others, or lack thereof. There were people around, who - I assume heard me scream and saw me lying on the sidewalk clutching my knee. Nobody stopped to help me up, or asked if I was all right. I eventually was able, on my own, to stand and walk home.

At first I was indignant at the indifference of passersby, but then it struck me: How often have I done the same? How often have I been directly petitioned for help, and either apologetically refused, or worse, stared straight ahead as if my supplicant did not exist? A homeless teenager, a man lying drunk in the road, an elderly lady with too much to carry - how often have I pretended to be blind to their needs? Too often.

Why? Because I felt I did not have the time, money or energy to spare? Because I was afraid of becoming involved? Because I feared my offer would be misinterpreted? No matter how much time, money or energy I may devote to “making the world a better place,” through activism or organizations, do I pitch in when directly confronted with need? Often, I have not.

Simple human kindness can be, in fact, as quiet as, “Good morning,” or, “How are you doing today?” Those words can make a world of difference to people who feel invisible to the world. I sometimes go through entire days walking around Bryn Mawr’s campus, saying hello to everyone I meet to be answered only with silence, avoidance of eye contact, or that momentary tight-lipped acknowledgment that is more of a sneer than a smile. How did we get to the point where we see all unknown human beings as threats? And, yet, too often I have treated others with that same coldness, simply because I am afraid my greeting will be rebuffed.

I am reminded of Jesus’ sermon on the plain: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (NIV, Luke 6:27-35).

I quote this not to be preachy or moralistic, only to point out how far I have to go before I can live up to this simple, everyday advice that Jesus gave to peasants, mobsters, prostitutes, fishermen, crazy folks and ordinary people like you and me.

God bless,

Susanna Thomas BMC ’02

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