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First Response

33 A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34 and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.” 36 Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbour to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”

(Luke 10:33-36) 

A modern-day Good Samaritan lifts a far-right proponent out of an opposing crowd. In London on Saturday, June 13th, 2020 'football casuals' and other far-right militia groups attacked anti-racist and 'Black Lives Matter' protestors. A far-right advocate lay drunken and cornered about to be further attacked, even killed. Instinctively, and apparently according to his character, Patrick Hutchinson gathered up the man and hoisted him in a fireman's lift out of danger. How could anyone who has some many reasons to hate help carry a man out of danger to life-giving safety? How could he help his enemy who hates him with every fibre of his being? 

We are living in a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, but this act speaks of hope and kindness where anger and vitriol reigns. Nothing could echo Jesus' teaching about what it means to love your neighbour more than this image. The power of an image to speak to our prejudices and hearts cannot be overstated. If we look at this photo with the lens of history and the hatred that is embedded in white-black relations whether it is the UK, US, or Australia we understand the nuance and the depth of the act. Something so simple yet so powerful grips our consciousness carrying us to a place that is realistically uncomfortable and confronting. Faith and love are often most powerful when they are actions. 

Words and dialogue are important. I heard recently of a book club that was held on a death row prison wing in Alabama, USA. That book club helped to free the minds and hearts of men who had been brutalised by childhood trauma and systemic racism.

An overriding image of the book club was the contribution of a white supremist death row inmate. After he had read 'Go tell it on the Mountain' by James Baldwin, he came to the earth-shattering conclusion that his whole life had been built upon lies. Lies that believed black people were less than human. Lies that led to treating them merely as property or a problem. Lies that led to abusing, lynching, and killing black people. Images and acts can speak into even the hardest and most hateful hearts. The man said "All of my life, my mother, my father, my community have told me lies about black people. All of my life I have mistreated black people simply because that was the way I was brought up." And he felt ashamed.

Spend some time looking at this image below:

  • How does it make you feel?

  • What do you notice about the image?

  • Can you see an act of love and kindness in the image?

  • If you did not know the story behind the image, do you think this would change what you are seeing and understanding? If so, why?

Photo: Reuters photographer Dylan Martinez

Matt Hall

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