What should you do when they see a need? My parents instilled in me the mindset of being proactive about taking care of things that need to be done. Its applications are seen in examples like not walking by the trash on the floor, opening the door for someone who has their hands full, giving a little cash to the guy on the corner with the sign, or providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on for the emotionally distraught. The motivation for this behavior comes, not out of obligation, but from an understanding that we are all one. Assisting one person helps humanity as a whole by both the benefits of the action and the example shown. Why then, do so few people operate in like manner? I think it is because society has lost focus from the ‘collective-we’; we have forgotten how to be neighbors.
Many people believe themselves to be part of the ‘collective-we’ because of their being part of the larger society based on their extensive social media network, having ties to a sorority or social club, or even joining a local church congregation, but these platforms severely distort the idea of being a neighbor. They blind people from seeing the needs of those around them by providing a false sense of community. In substitute for compassionate actions, one need only click the crying emoji to get the feeling have had compassion. That three-second emotional fix gained by clicking the emoji is quickly replaced by laughter at the next item in the scroll, and so it goes as we the cycle creates in us a numbness to reality. That numbness allows one to observe a need without being touched enough to address it; she has become blind the true ‘colletive-we.’ That blindness separates one person from the other in a manner that we no longer exists. It creates a mentality that says – there is only me and mine and if anyone wants access to it they must ask, and I will determine if their need is worth my attention; if it should be my problem to solve. This mindset is contrary to the ‘collective-we’ i.e. the Biblical example of being neighborly.
The Bible has many guidelines for how society should function inter-relationally as a ‘collective-we,’ and Jesus specifically addresses the idea of the ‘collective-we’ in the parable of The Good Samaritan. This parable speaks to the truth of who should be considered a neighbor by showing how different people react to seeing a man in need. It tells of two people, a Priest and Levite – both holy men, who were too focused on their travels to stop and give aid to a wounded man along the roadside who was obviously in need of assistance. It goes further to tell of another man, a Samaritan – considered unholy by society, who saw the same man in need and had compassion enough to pause from his travels long enough to see that the man in need was cared for. He didn’t just throw money at the situation; he went as far as to take full responsibility or the care of the wounded man by offering to come back through and take care of any expense accumulated in caring for that wounded man.
What should one do when they see a need? Go back to those values taught by my parents and preached by Jesus himself. Take action to meet the needs of your neighbor. Begin to cure society of numbness and blindness to need by providing stimulation and light through example in action. If you see a need, do something to meet it!