By now, you may have heard of the woman whose neighbor plowed her driveway — unasked — which occasioned an op-ed about the perfidy of “Trumpites” as she calls them.
While she grudgingly acknowledged that it seemed like a nice thing to do, she was having none of it. She went on to say that being nice is exactly the tactics that evil monsters often used — she cites Hezbollah, Louis Farrakhan and of course, Nazi collaborators.
All because neighbors were kind to her.
It is fair to assume from her essay that she doesn’t know these people. And yet, she knows all she needs to: they supported a politician she detests. Do you suppose her neighbors know her political leanings as well? And that they — gasp — were kind to her nonetheless? I suppose it is possible in this age of conspiracy thinking, that they did it just as a cover for their dastardly deeds, but what if they thought of her as more than her politics?
This is inconceivable to the adherents to identity politics. Identity politics reduces all of us to one dimension — our politics, our gender, our sexuality, our race, our finances. It is a closed and airless universe in which we are only and ever one thing — no subtleties, no contradictions or human unpredictability. It is a world totally devoid of nuance, completely lacking in grace.
Which brings to mind a story from long ago, before Trumpites or the Resistance, before Proud Boys or Antifa. It appears there was a man who was robbed and beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. People of his religion and ethnic makeup saw him and left him there. But someone — someone who he was supposed to despise and who was supposed to despise him,– stopped, gave him first aid, took him to a safe place and paid for his health care.
By the code of the perpetually outraged, this man should have awakened and spit in his rescuer’s face. He should have said, “Boy, isn’t that just like a Samaritan — making nice all the while supporting murderous regimes and heretical religious beliefs.” He could have said I know all I need to about this, this deplorable, and he can’t fool me with his good deeds. For that matter, his rescuer might have said the same. He could have said “Isn’t it just like those Jews to get themselves beaten up and expect someone to come to their aid.”
But that’s not the story Jesus told. He told the story of the Good Samaritan because someone asked, “Who is my neighbor?” You see, these divisions and animosities are old news, as old as humanity. As long as we’re satisfied that labels tell us all we need to know about each other, we will live in a brutal world of mutually-assured destruction.
Stop right now and read Luke 10:25-37. The parable was occasioned by a simple question: “Who is my neighbor?” In other words, who do I have to love? And equally important, who do I allow to love me?
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