Thursday, June 26, 2008

When Twisted Logic Inhibits Compassion

Years ago, I was in a crisis situation. I asked a man for help. I'd previously considered him to be a good friend and a solid Christian, so I thought there was a chance that he would care enough about me to help me in my time of need.

His mother also considered herself to be a Christian. She and I had interacted with one another on a few occasions in the past. For some reason, she took it upon herself to write to me in response to the aforementioned request, even though the request had not been addressed to her. It was not a nice letter. Nor did it make any sense to me.

She said, "I've heard that a lifeguard can't rescue a drowning man unless and until the man stops struggling and thrashing about and crying out for help." She strongly implied that the mere fact that I was crying out for help meant that I didn't deserve such help.

Of course, it was a Catch 22. If I'd failed to cry out for help, then she could legitimately say that she and her son could not be expected to know about my need if I didn't communicate that need with them. Any way that one looked at things, she had a convenient excuse for apathy and indifference to my plight.

Yes, there's a time to stop thrashing around and crying out for help. That time is after the lifeguard has swum to one's side and assured one that he or she is there to help. But it would be ridiculous to assert that the best way to attract the lifeguard's attention, when the lifeguard is still sitting far away on his perch on the beach, would be to passively float out in the middle of the ocean and do nothing as one's lungs fill up with water, causing one to lose consciousness and to drown! How is the lifeguard supposed to know that one needs help if one doesn't cry out for help and flail one's arms around in order to capture the person's attention? Beats me.

It's bad enough to be denied the help that one needs. What makes it even worse is when self-righteous individuals speciously and presumptuously imply that the reason for their lack of compassion is that one does not deserve help!

It's people like my ex-friend's mother that give Christians a bad name. Fortunately, I've been around long enough to know that Christians are not all like that.

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