The parable of the Good Samaritan is a didactic story told by Jesus in Luke 10:25–37. It is about a traveler who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveler. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to the question from a lawyer, “And who is my neighbor?” whom Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved. In response, Jesus tells the parable, the conclusion of which is that the neighbour figure in the parable is the man who shows mercy to the injured man—that is, the Samaritan.
When one person refers to another as being a “Good Samaritn,” we automatically think of the act of the good samaritn of which Jesus Spoke. A “Good Samaritin” is not a vigilante! Yesterday, however, a television news anchor repeatedly referred to a vigilante as being a “Good Samaritin.” An horrific act was committed that left about 24 people injured and another 26 dead. A man fought with the person responsible for the crime, chased him, and eventually killed him. Compare that act to the act of the good samaritin in the Bible. A crime was commited which left a person near to death laying in the road. Several other people passed by the injured person, nor did they pursue nor attempt to apprehend the one who committed the crime. However, there was one who did something, the good samaritin. The good samaritin approached the injured vicitm and brought all the care necessary to restore the person to proper health. There is a stark difference between the behavior of the vigilante and the behavior of the good samaritin. The difference is in the spirit. One was motivated by anger, vengence, and murderous intent towards a criminal. The other was motivated by goodwill, kindness and love towards the vicitm. From here will begin this essay called, “Good Samaratins Aren’t Vigilantes.”
People change according to their relationship to the spiritual fruit. As one changes their relationship to fruitful qualities, they could transform either into a vigilante or a Good Samaratin. This is as common as the situations when one might say, “that person has become hardened,” or “that person has become a warm individual.” It is possible to become hardened to the spiritual fruit for the so-called “right” reasons. That is the case with a vigilante. When the things and people loved most are destroyed in senseless acts of crime, one will change. A vigilante becomes filled with hatred, unkindness, ill-intent towards those who commit unjust acts towards the vulnerable. They even plan what they will do if they ever come across a trouble maker. They will meet violence with violence to give to the perpetrators as harshly as what the perpetrators give to the victims. The vigilante aggressively pursues the criminal with murderous intent. They act impulsively in the moment, as they imagined they would do, losing all control over death or life, which has fatal results. The vigilante suffers a lost of joyful optimism, feels despair over the rampant violence, and feels that fighting violence with violence is the solution to evil.
Senseless violence that is rampant in society can also transform a person into a Good Samaratin. The Good Samaratin sees the decay, rot, and deterioration that happens in their community when violence is everyone’s answer to an undesirable situation. The criminals use violence as a way to achieve their goal, while the vigilante uses violence to subdue the perpetrators. Violence is everywhere and love seems to be rare, and that is what a person sees while transforming into a person of compassion. Within a world of victims, a person desires to share kindness, goodwill, and love….thus a Good Samaratin is born. The desire to impart tranquility to a neighborhood and country they love creates within them a meek and gentle spirit of peace. Instead of adding more deterioration to the planet they love, they persevere with self-control and patience when antagonists push them to the limits of restraint. In their compassionate desire for the welfare of victims, they offer optimism and hope within the sincerity of goodness, faith, and joy.
Have you ever planted a garden and felt it was way more effort keeping the creatures and bugs from eating or digging up the seed than it was to actually nurture and care for the future blossoms? This is similar to the contrast between a Good Samaratin and a vigilante. A vigilante will utilize way more energy to chase down and subdue a criminal while neglecting the situation of the victims. The vigilante becomes consumed with impatience, loses all sense of self-control, and becomes embroiled into a fatal situation. They respond quickly, but their burning desire carries them away from the needs of the victims. A Good Samaratin has a spirit that carries them to the victims. They care more for restoring the welfare of the injured than to hunt down and subdue a criminal. They feel the same emotions as the vigilante, but with self-control, patience, and perseverance in fruitful intentions, their first response is to care for the health and well being of the victims. The vigilante turns away from the health concerns of others while the Good Samaratin turns towards the health concerns of the victims. We should allow ourselves more time to focus on the nurturing of the seed instead of becoming excessively preoccupied with exterminating the culprits.
In the cold winter months there is nothing to be done referring to the nurturing of the seed in a garden. In this light, the debate might be which person is coldest emotionally. Is it the one who refuses to subdue a criminal, or the one who wastes no time in what appears to be a futile situation among the victims? In the spiritually cold climate, it can be said that the Good Samaratin utilizes restraint while the vigilante becomes cold inwardly with a vengence. One utilizes restraint in a world full of harsh and aggressive violence while the other engages the criminals with deadly force. The Good Samaratin wants to reassure a victimized world by conveying a meek and gentle spirit of peace. Let us be the snow that slows the traffic and not be the ice that is the cause of collisions.
Watering a garden is essential to bring blossoms, and is essential to all life. Water is life. If we spend more time on battling the bugs and other creatures then we do on watering the roots then eventually the whole garden is lost. From that perspective, we can draw another contrast between the vigilante and the Good Samaratin. The vigilante will pursue the option of subduing the culprits responsible for attacking the plants. In the process, the plants receive no water. That is to say that the vigilante is more occupied to subdue a criminal then to attend to the tender-loving-care needs of the victims. In a sense, the vigilante is fed-up with social upheaval and develops hatred, ill-intent, and a bit of cruelty towards offenders. But compassion for the victims is lost. The Good Samaritan is motivated to bring waters of nourishment to the victims. Within the Good Samaratin are the waters of life that imparts compassion to those who are hurt, neglected, and wounded. The waters flow to others through the spirit of love, goodwill, and kindness. The Good Samaratin nurtures others with the waters of life, whereas the vigilante does not provide such waters.
“Where your heart is that is where your treasure is.” Another way of saying that is that what we value most is what we invest most of our time in. What happens within the “heart” of a vigilante or a Good Samaratin to cause them to invest their time in activities that are so different? The “heart” would have to consist of the things we think about as well as our emotions to propel us to a specific behavior. Now, suppose that one believes in a divine presence of our inner life, and the other believes purely in natural or instinctual processes. The Good Samaratin would invest more time in honoring the divine goodness of the soul, while the vigilante would invest more time on external factors. In other words, the Good Samaratin would focus on spiritual qualities, while the vigilante focuses on physical dominance. In a situation where there are casualties, and the perpetrator is still nearby, our reactions will vary according to where our heart is. The Good Samaratin will have the desire in the spirit to attend to the victims. In contrast, the vigilante sees only the external physical threat and is motivated to subdue the criminal. It makes a huge difference to view the human body as the home of the holy spirit compared to viewing the body as a bag of bones and tissue. Let our treasure be the divinity of the soul which generates the holy spirit. That is the stuff of which Good Samaratins are made.
The purpose of planting a garden is to stimulate growth, which requires the Sun. One could say that the identity and self-expression of blossoms is clearly seen within the warmth of a moist garden. To deprive a garden of that stimulating warmth is to deny the garden of fruitful life. If we are too busy chasing away the bugs and animals then we have no time to enhance the generation of the buds. Likewise, when vigilantes intend to subdue criminals they are not generating the warmth necessary to create positive growth in the community. We live in a world where it is too easy to feel despair over the senseless violence, therefore pessimism sets in about persevering in faith, which leads to more evil. In essence, the warmth of the Sun is stolen from us within a cold and spiritually dark world. Many vigilantes arise from this environment. In contrast, the Good Samaratin is full of hope, faith, goodness, and joy. This is the sunshine that leads to the nurturing and caring attitude towards victims in a gun-toting society. The Good Samaratin has faith that their healing desires are healthy for the welfare of humanity. They bring the joy of optimism and hope to the victims that suffer in so many ways from a cold and dark world. And they impart goodness to those who are beaten down within an evil environment. The Good Samaratin desires to generate the warmth of positive energy to victims. Where the vigilante ventures into the cold darkness to subdue a perpetrator, the Good Samaratin follows the warm light to nourish the victims.
We can assess that there is a difference between a Good Samaratin and a vigilante. The diagnosis is that some people intend to describe the vigilante and Good Samaratin as being the same person. Even so, we plan to continue in the ways of a Good Samaratin without the intent of the vigilante. We implement that plan by maintaining the warmth of soft moist qualities within our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. We know our plan is successful when we desire to bring compassion to the victims while turning away from engaging violence with violence.
Some people will deny that there is a difference between a Good Samaratin and vigilante. In fact, they express anger towards the spirit of the Good Samaratin. Their intent is to impede compassionate efforts towards the victims. They incite conflict in the name of social duty. When people feel despair and pessimism at social injustice and violence it is used to extinguish the spirit of the Good Samaratin. They want to redirect the negative energy into fighting violence with violence. However, those of the spirit of the Good Samaratin are intent on imparting joy and hope to those who suffer. Some people will never accept the spiritual difference between the vigilante and the Good Samaratin.
You might have experienced repeated occasions of running into obstacles when trying to do a good deed for someone. In that case, you are familiar with the attitudes of the population that aims to diminish the spirit of the Good Samaratin. They grow and live with the singular intent to enflame the desire of the vigilante while prohibiting the desire of compassion. They want to see the manifestation of the violence that brings more violence. The attitudes that exit them are words that incites vigilantes into action while simultaneously putting to sleep the spirit of the Good Samaratin. Their behaviors are designed to incite people to take physical action against the perceived injustice. However, all that they do is to immobilize your hands, feet, and inspiration from delivering aid to the victims.
Transferring the attitude of the vigilante, while extinguishing the spirit of the Good Samaritin, happens in direct ways and indirect ways. Directly, the creation of conflict under the disguise of social justice serves the purpose of the very influential. A neighborhood, country, or the world embroiled in turmult causes people to demand changes in who controls government. Because there is positive reinforcement for vigilante actions, along with negative feedback for the spirit of the Good Samaratin, indirect transference occurs. The modified behavior causes the people to take their “pet peeves” into their own hands, which is to meet violence with violence, while simulataneously various others demand changes in government. In essence, direct and indirect route of transferrence rejects the Holy Spirit, which is to reject the spiritual fruit, which is to reject the Good Samaratin on a massive scale.
A vigilante attitude might enter into our way of thinking, feeling, and behaving because we feel socially justified, and feel a sense of worth to our community. In essence, a person takes aggressive action in the name of protecting their neighborhood and home. They are given positive reinforcement for the vigilante actions. Furthermore, there are many social groups created to demand changes in government. Even so, the spirit of the Good Samaratin is lost from neighbor to neighbor and citizen to citizen. One is given praise and esteem as belonging to a greater cause beyond neighborhoods and countries. Their cause embraces worldwide symptoms, except that same cause lacks the spriit of the Good Samaratin. In fact, negative feedback is given to the Good Samaratin amidst worldwide changes.
A person susceptible to hosting the attitude of a vigilante are exposed to one horrible injustice after another. Simultaneously, there is not a Good Samaratin around to comfort or aid them, and they themselves are prohibited from offering support to other victims. There are problems in the delivery of health care services, failure in the services of police, fire, and ambulance, a lack of social love, disparagement of worth in comparison to others, and overall the inability to be expressive as a Good Samaratin. It is as if the only way to solicit needs of daily life is to shout, growl, and bite for everything sought for. The susceptible host will forsake the spirit of the Good Samaratin to adopt a vigilante attitude for the purpose of maintaining a resemblance of comfort.
We can interrupt the cycle of the vigilante attitude while giving life to the spirit of the Good Samaratin. We do that by rejecting positive reinforcement for behavior that contradicts the Good Samaratin. Similarly, we persevere fruitfully when experiencing negative situations that attack the spirit of our compassion. We allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit to modify us inwardly through thoughts and emotions to guide our behavior. We welcome the soft moist waters of life to shape our character as a Good Samaratin.