Jim: Ah. Who’s your neighbor? Who’s your neighbor, my friends? Welcome to Fishing Without Bait – a lifetime without definitive expectations. Where we ask you to avoid placing unrealistic expectations on yourself or attempting to live up to the unrealistic expectations of others. My name’s Jim Ellermeyer. I’m a behavioral health therapist, and today I’m joined by my good friend, co-host, and producer of this program – Mr. Mike. Mr. Mike, I understand we’re celebrating an anniversary of sorts.
Mike: Yes. This is our 75th episode, which is our diamond jubilee episode of Fishing Without Bait.
Jim: A diamond jubilee? What does a diamond signify?
Mike: And beauty.
Jim: So, what do we ask people to do? We ask people to participate in their lives with full-impact mindfulness. Do we not? So, what’s one of the qualities that a diamond – what does it do in the sun? What does it do in the light?
Mike: It glistens. It glitters.
Jim: And sparkles.
Jim: Remember, quite often we talk with people about feeling the tingle. About adding that sparkle to your life. About becoming that butterfly bursting out of that cocoon and spreading your wings. About being Dorothy landing in Oz and stepping out of the black and white house into a technicolor world – into a technicolor life. So, Mike, we’re fortunate enough to be close by – in close proximity to a zen master who used to live and work in the City of Pittsburgh. And, that man’s name was Fred Rogers. Are you familiar with him?
Mike: Oh, I grew up on Mr. Rogers.
Jim: Indeed. And, one of Mr. Rogers’ favorite quotes that I ran into that means something particularly to me today – he says when I was a boy and would see scary things in the news my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And, if we refer back to our series – it seems like lifetimes ago – when we did a series about mindfulness as far as faith-based communities go, we often talked about the mindfulness of the particular individual by the name of Jesus, did we not?
Jim: And, Jesus often spoke in parables to get his point across to people – as no one likes to be lectured to. And, he was certainly the master of the non-lecture. One of the favorite parables of mine that’s so, so relevant to when we get bad news – and that’s what seems to be prevalent – not only today but in the past also, and one of those is the story of the Good Samaritan. Are you familiar with what a Samaritan is?
Mike: Well, one, a Samaritan is a people that was talked about in the Bible.
Jim: Indeed they are.
Mike: And, I know this is a story about showing empathy and helping others.
Jim: Sure. So, where the actual Samaritan people came from was – oh my, many, many, many years ago before the birth of the Bible’s Jesus, the Asyrians conquered the northern part of Israel. And, as was their wont, in order to prevent an uprising they would take the elite – the rulers – and they would exile them. And, they would incorporate other conquered peoples into that land. Now, keep in mind that the Jewish people back then had a strong sense of national identity – very strong. So, the people that the Asyrians would bring in would enter, mix, and inter-marry with the Jewish people of that time in Northern Israel. Well, given a sense of national identity, the rest of the Orthodox Jewish folks viewed these people as less-thans. They viewed them as people who strayed from the faith. And, they were people who were no longer permitted to be associated with or even spoken to – or even, they would not even say their names. So, keep in mind there was a great deal of enmity between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. Even though they were basically of the same faith.
Mike: So, reading from Luke 10:25-37: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Judas.
Jim: And, an expert in the law back then would have been a lawyer. And, lawyers back then – when we talk about law back in those days, we talk about the Law of Moses. And, the Law of Moses was based on the Torah – the five books of the Old Testament. So, lawyers were experts in the law and interpreting that law.
Mike: Teacher, he asked. What must I do to inherit eternal light? What is written in the law, he replied? How do you read it?
Jim: What Jesus was using there was what would be called Socratic questioning. When someone would ask Socrates a question – rather than answer them, he would ask a question in return, which put the person on the defensive. And, Socrates – and in this case, Jesus, could evaluate the answer.
Mike: He answered, love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.
Jim: And, this is according to the law. And, if you’ll notice, it’s exactly the same thing that Jesus repeated to the young rich man in Matthew.
Mike: And love your neighbor as yourself.
Jim: So, the question here is – and Jesus goes on to explain – who is your neighbor? Now keep in mind that back in those days, the Jewish folks had an entirely different interpretation of neighbor. Neighbor was one you were associated with. And, the only people that were permitted to be associated with were again, national identity, organized Jewish faith.
Mike: So, they fully excluded anybody else that wasn’t under that classification.
Mike: Interesting. You have answered correctly, Jesus replied. Do this and you will live. But, he wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus, and who is my neighbor? In reply Jesus said, a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to go down the same road.
Jim: So, we’re talking about a priest – it doesn’t have to be the Jewish religion, of any religion. And, all religions preach love. Do they not?
Mike: And, when he saw the man he passed by on the other side. So, too a Levite when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan as he travelled came where the man was and when he saw him he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Jim: And, why would we put on wine? What is the ingredient in wine? What is the main ingredient?
Jim: Yes. So, alcohol was used to disinfect the wound.
Mike: Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn-keeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell unto the hand of robbers? The expert in the law replied the one who had mercy on him.
Jim: And, if you’ll notice – in that passage the expert in the law, the lawyer – who were also called scribes, could not even permit himself to say the word Samaritan.
Mike: Jesus told him, go and do likewise.
Jim: So, let’s ask everyone out there, who is your neighbor? So, quite often we get outraged about our perceptions of people who are marginalized – who are taken advantage of. However, what often do we do? We often rail against – with each other, do we not? We sit in our coffee shops. Or we sit in our home. We sit in with like-minded people and we complain and rail and bitterly complain against the evils of this world, do we not? Where does it get us? Other than we’re preaching to the choir, are we not? So, the idea is is what we always talk about in Fishing Without Bait and full-impact mindfulness – is to make an impact into this world, to create a reaction rather than wait for one. So, the idea – what Mr. Rogers talked to us about – look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. So, rather commiserate with people who already share your point of view and all you will do is continue to whine and complain against the evils of this world, find out and seek the helpers. Seek the people who advocate for your cause, and support them. Love is an action word. Gratitude is an action word. We’ve talked before in Fishing Without Bait about the lottery story, have we not, Mike? We talked about buying the ticket. That’s my challenge out there to everyone today. Words mean something. Of course they do. Action and effort is the key here. Are you going to sit and whine and complain about the misfortunes and the ill treatment that the world gives? Or are you willing to stand up and advocate for those who are marginalized? Remember, the Bible’s Jesus speaks 184 times in the New Testament about the responsibility to help the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the weak, the aged, the falsely imprisoned. Do you think that person meant that? Do you think they meant it? Yes, they did. And, that’s the idea. Words will not feed the poor. Words will not take people out of prison. It’s action and effort. And, it’s being with like-minded people and turning that love – turning that concern, turning that frustrating into an action word. To support the people who support your causes. You can scream and yell and say nasty things about people who you perceive are doing you, or a number of people, wrong. However, my challenge out there for everyone – as Mr. Gandhi says is to be the change you wish to see in the world. Model behavior for others. Not just to rail against the supposed inequities of this world. Be that change. That’s my challenge to everyone out there. My challenge to everyone out there is – who is your neighbor? Who is your brother and your sister? Look beside you. Look to your right and look to your left. Look right in front of you. There’s an old story, Mike, that says when they came for the Jews, I did nothing. I wasn’t a Jew. And, then they came for the Catholics. I didn’t do anything because I wasn’t a Catholic. They came for African Americans. The Chinese. I didn’t do anything because I wasn’t them. And, then one day, they came for me. And, I cried for help and there was no one left to help me. Please don’t let that happen to you. Stand up for your brother – what’s important in your life. Remember, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. We are all that. We are our brother’s keeper. Take care. Do a kindness for yourself. Do a kindness for another. Namaste.