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Parable for Facebook

Imagine yourself walking down a city sidewalk with your arms filled with bags of groceries. Well, I guess since grocery bags are usually plastic now, it would be better to say that your arms are weighed down with grocery bags hanging from your elbows. You're not far from your apartment, but you're looking forward to eating that chicken soup you picked up at the deli, and enjoying your Oreos and milk (or Gatorade?) later tonight.

Unfinished Parable

You've just come to a busy corner when a white van veers up to the sidewalk beside you and the door slams open. A woman with two little kids is shoved out of the van and you hear someone yell as it drives off, "This is as far as you go, lady!"


It's disconcerting to say the least. The woman stumbles as she hits the curb, and she ends up in a messy heap at your feet, knocking into one of your plastic bags so that it bursts open and your stuff spills out on top of her. One of the kids is crying, while the other one just sort of whines and clings to the woman.

Okay, so of course you help this woman up, and your adrenaline surges as you realize she surely is the victim of some sort of crime. "Are you okay, lady? Who was that? Do you want me to call the police?" But oddly, this woman pulls away from your hands, crying, in poor, thickly accented English, "No! No policia, no, pour favor, no policia!"


“Okay, lady, okay, just stop crying and let me help. Here, your leg is hurt.” Among the stuff spilled from your bags is a plastic roll of moist wipes. They are supposed to clean bathrooms, but the woman accepts them to wipe the blood from her leg where she had fallen, then she mops at the face of her screaming child. That does nothing to sooth the kid; if anything, he’s screaming more now. So you grab something else from your bag – the package of Oreos. That does the trick. Finally, quiet, so you can think. What to do with these people if she won’t go to the police? Then you remember the other child, now in her arms. You offer the little girl a cookie, but she turns her face away. That face is flushed and hot to the touch. This child is sick!

But it isn’t your problem, is it? You need to pick up your groceries and get back home. One by one you retrieve your purchases – the moist wipes, the Oreos, the soup that somehow managed not to spill, the Gatorade, the bottle of aspirin, the fresh fruit...

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with this. It’s not actually real, I made it up just now. What do you think? Does the protagonist (Good Samaritan? Not-So-Good Samaritan) take the woman and kids to home or drive them to a shelter? Will they get what’s left of the Oreos, the chicken soup, maybe some aspirin for that sick little girl? Or will they spend the night there on the street?

I could add a few more details. Let’s say the location is Yuma. The corner is in front of Wal-Mart. The van is... actually, I’m not at liberty to disclose the insignia on the side of the van or the badge worn by the man who “dropped off” the woman and her children. It’s 105 degrees in Yuma, and the protagonist in this little parable happens to be clergy. Does any of that make a difference? I don’t know the rest of the story because this is what is going on in Yuma and the ecumenical fellowship there could use access to some showers right now. I’ll let you know when David reports again.