back to Weekly Archives
Blood Alley may have been a specific location on a road leading down to Jericho but there’s a real sense in which it’s the story of the planet. In actual experience the three categories certainly overlap but it won’t hurt us to muse on the fact that Jesus introduced us to three categories of people in this Luke 10 story. Humans are divided into three groups, 1) Those that wound, 2) Those that hurry on by the wounded and (3) those that make it part of living to help the wounded.
Because we’ve all sinned and all are sinners (Romans 3:23) we’re all part of the "wounders" group. No sinner ever became a sinner all by him/herself. Since the Garden rebellion every human has been born into a sinful world and has been shaped by it. We’ve been born in sin and shaped by iniquity, as one great sinner confessed. Whatever we should say about genes and chromosomes everyone confesses that environment is a profoundly powerful factor in the making of a sinner. Environment isn’t omnipotent—only God is that, but it’s plain foolishness not to take a child’s environment seriously when we’re making judgements about his/her attitudes and behaviour.
We’ve helped one another to sin! Your bitterness, my greed, his cruelty or her craftiness—they not only belong to each one of us that is marked by them, they are the work product of entire societies. And that truth (and it is truth!) needs to be kept in mind when we’re tempted to think we’re the solitary virgins in a world of hookers.
Nations would like to place all the blame on other nations for the awful hatred and torture and pillage that goes on in our world. But in our hearts we know—however we end up acting in response to someone’s current response—in our hearts we know we’ve all got it wrong at some time or another. It just isn’t done that those in power confess, "We helped produce this situation." It doesn’t matter whether you live in the East or West—blame it all on the other side.
Nevertheless, there is a specificity of responsibility. If others should share the blame, we who act out the cruelty or greed or spread the moral infection, verbally and in our attitudes, we should not be free of blame.
And then there are those of us that are cruel and sinister and without (apparently) a particle of remorse. Like all others we have moral weakness and in practice can’t live without offending but some of us rejoice in the evil we do. We are humanity’s "finest" in the matter of doing evil. We wound and rejoice in it, take pleasure in the hurt in another’s eyes. As a prophet indicated, we lie at night hatching out evil on our bed and wake in the morning and eagerly go after it with both hands. We hunt our vulnerable prey; family or otherwise, infant or aged, poor or wealthy, educated or ignorant, foreigners or home-born—it matters nothing who or what they are, just so long as we can hurt them without getting hurt.
We ravage the children, gloat and send the pictures to each other and boast of how shrewdly we groomed the victims and covered our tracks. We rehearse in our minds the words that we know will cut like a knife, correcting them as we rehearse, changing a phrase for something more ugly, more mean, more humiliating, more undeserved. Then we deliver them and rejoice in the look of astonished dismay. We make no inner attempt to justify what we do—it’s enough that we enjoy it. We spread the shame of someone who lives with it daily, as in an emotional purgatory and (rascals that we are) we sometimes look for justification for why we did it. And we find it! No surprise there.
We betray our husband/wife in a godless way and still insist on being treated as though innocent. We demand a gracious attitude (demand it! and take the moral high ground if we aren’t getting it) from the one we’ve treacherously hurt. We breeze in and out of their lives as if nothing had happened. We wound deeply and know that we wound deeply and saunter off leaving our victim oozing blood in a ditch. Saunter off to church, for pity’s sake! And saunter from it! Where we sat before the God of the people we’re crippling!
More "respectably" we negotiate deals with little countries, buying their national resources at a pittance for the population that by and large lives in poverty. The loans we offer them to get the resources out of the ground and to the market have "conditions". You will allow this or that company to supply the equipment, you will give them such tax exemption as will persuade them to be willing to engage with you in the resource extraction, and on and on. Muggers with spotless hands and heartless chests mug the little nation. And the stockholders are pleased with the return on their investments while the vulnerable foreigners (like Bolivians) sit wondering when the revenue on their vast gas reserves is going to produce some hospitals etc. Pharmaceutical companies, with their well-placed agents and subsidised hospitals and agencies, prowl the world for a market for their stocks of this and that to sell before they’re past their sell-by date. They bully governments into thinking that if they don’t supply this or that drug for their citizens that they’re uncaring. Vast amounts of money are put into antiviral drugs that are confessed to be of very limited value, if valuable at all. And other crying needs and projects are starved of funds. Scientists selling their voices and burying truths.
Wounders all! All of us!