I confess that reading The Parable of The Good Samaritan from a human dignity perspective has really widened my horizons of thinking. I wish to concentrate exclusively on the parable rather than the dialogue before that.
Firstly, the Priest and the Levite. Here we have to consider social dignity, which converts a person to a distinguished dignitary (DD) in society. Several layers cover up our human dignity to make us a DD. We change from a human being to a social being. We are more social- status conscious than being self-/human conscious. I think this is what hindered the Priest and Levite from reaching out to the victim.
Secondly, The Samaritan (made to be “Good”). The Samaritan’s act of restoration of dignity to the victim is also an act of restoration of the Samaritan’s own identity. It is an attempt to counter the people who are obsessed with their dignitary status and never reach to the restoration of humans who are totally ripped off of their dignity.
Restoration of human dignity is a process; it just does not stop with recognizing and helping the victim. The Samaritan cleaned him, took him to the inn, stayed with him, paid for him and promised to repay the extras. Many times, we stop by recognizing or reaching but never dare to enter the process of Restoration because it demands a lot from us. This process sometimes even hinders us from reaching out to the victims.
Thirdly, the donkey- the silent actor, for me, is the most dignified of all the characters in the parable. It carried the Samaritan and it also carried the victim, the Samaritan reached the victim on it and the victim reached the inn on it. Did the donkey complain anywhere in any form? I feel that Jesus consciously made it a part of the restoration process of human dignity. He himself chooses a donkey for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In the busy world, we struggle to define our dignity with our dignitary status just as we struggle for our own identity as a person. In this strife to reach our own targets and positions /dignitaries, we miss seeing the people who are ripped off of their basic human dignity. Sometimes we may not be a good Samaritans but we can be a carrier of the Samaritan and also the victim. We can be a silent contributor to complete the human dignity restoration process knowingly or unknowingly but still being part of it. As we celebrate the Yeshu Bakthi Divas this month lets us retrospect on our role as Christians in this country. God called us to lead the human restoration process as silent contributors.
I remember this slogan of an airlines, which says- “Official Carrier of Common sense”. Here I see the donkey as an official carrier of God’s sense- love, a carrier, which does its job without complaints irrespective of religion, gender, caste, creed and colour. Sometimes, we need to be a dignified donkey because our dignity has been redefined when the saviour made us His choice and rode on us to reach the unreached. In order to restore someone’s dignity sometimes we need to lose our ‘dignitaries’ status’ and become a dignified donkey. Are we willing to be a dignified donkey?
Rev. John Basy Paul,