Educated in a small town
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town
--Small Town, John Mellencamp
Last week when gassing up at the local truck stop I was greeted by a disturbing sight.
The denizen derelict who usually begs for money while people are cornered at the gas pump was lying comatose in the 100-degree heat four feet from the front door of the store, seemingly invisible to the truck stop patrons. Like all the crazies, beggars, bums and losers in the lottery of life, he simply did not exist.
I, too, walked past his prostrate form to pay, much as did the passengers in the van next to me from the New Hope Baptist Church. Not one of these virile young people infused with the Holy Spirit bothered to help their fellow Child of God. So much for the lesson of the Good Samaritan.
Well, my mind caught up with my ass and I stopped, parked and went to see if the body was alive. Confessedly, I only stopped because my friend Jim Reid died of heat stroke in the June sun in a diabetic coma. There was a pulse, and spittle drooling from the mouth; other than that, not much. I went to the management and asked them to call an ambulance. They hemmed, and I asked, "What if he dies on your doorstep?" They seemed to move to call the ambulance.
I noticed the license plate of the van as it departed: "Choose Life". It's one of Florida's big sellers.
We claim to be Christians but lack a basic compassion. In losing our humanity, he lost his. He was akin to a cord of wood or a stray Burger King wrapper.
This wasn't a Haitian or an Afghan, but a fellow American, and nobody gave a damn. Charity begins at home. He was dirty and bedraggled, and we guess it looks better to bring the tchotchkes home from a week-long mission in Guatemala.
Religion is organized hypocrisy.