My friends told me this story last weekend: They were leaving work late at night, and heading to their cars in the parking ramp. One friend decided to take the elevator up to the second floor while the other took the stairs. The elevator arrived first. Though, blocking the door to the garage was a man who had passed out on the floor.

My friend, let’s call him Felix, motions to his shy friend, we’ll call her Ella, to stay put at the top of the stairs. Felix taps the sleeping man on the shoulder. The man slowly rouses. He’s alright, just intoxicated. It takes a few minutes, but the sleepy man, Popeye, sharpens up pretty fast. He’s not hurt; he has his wallet. While Felix talks to Popeye to make sure he’s coherent, Ella grabs her phone to call a cab, all the while muttering, “Where are his friends? Who left him on his own like this?”

Felix and Ella escort Popeye back to the street level and then proceed to get into a shouting match with other revelers on the street who try to steal their cab. Our normally shy Ella wins the match and the cab. Popeye has money, knows where he lives, and gets into the cab. Felix and Ella go on their way, hoping they did the right thing.

The next day, Felix and Ella discuss their hope that Popeye’s alright. Felix tells Ella he hopes they get some good karma for their kindness in helping Popeye. Ella, a blog fan of my Recompense Series, tells him, “We were kind for the sake of being kind.”

DSC00699A similar story—this one’s Biblical. It is told: A man is robbed and beat up by vandals on the road outside Jerusalem, and is left to die. (These stories don’t mess around.) The left-for-dead man is Jewish. A Levite comes along—a Jewish man from the Levi tribe, men called by God to be the keepers of the temples and sacred artifacts and the only ones called to handle the Ark of the Covenant. He sees Left-for-Dead, but crosses to the other side of the road and goes on his way. (Incidentally, Left-for-Dead was noted as a traveler. As you know, our English word travel comes from Old French: travail, meaning to labor, toil, and even older: to trouble or torment. Traveling was not for the faint of heart.) Back to our story: A priest comes along, too, but also refuses to help. Then suddenly a man from the Roman-held Samaria shows up. Samaritans and Jews were rival enemies, worse than Packers and Vikings fans, Steelers and Cowboys fans in the ‘70s, current day Steelers and Browns and Ravens fans—oh, I could go on. The Samaritan picks up the Jewish man, gets him to the nearest roadside “hotel,” arranges for food and help, and pays for the Jewish man’s stay. The Samaritan then continues on his way, and returns from his business a little while later to check on the Jewish man.

This is how we come to call our helpers Good Samaritans. At the time of our second story, Samaritans were not considered to be “good,” quite the opposite, in fact. The very idea of a Good Samaritan has its origin in this story.

Simply put: We have no idea the consequences of our actions.

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My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.

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