A lawyer wants to test Jesus, so he asks, "Sir, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus says, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And the legal eagle says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself." Jesus agrees, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." And the legal guy, apparently thinking he's done all of these things, probes further, "And who exactly is my neighbour? The guy living next door, perhaps?" But Jesus doesn't answer the lawyer but tells a story instead. I shall paraphase in more contemporary, stereotypical, but quite accurate analogies. A man was going from Singapore to Johor Bahru, and he fell among some robbers who stripped him and robbed him and left, leaving him to die. Now by chance, a senior pastor of a nearby church walked past and saw the half-dead man, but he decided to pass by on the other side. Another reverend happened to walk by a while later. Again, he chose to ignore the dying man for some reason. But then, a Bangladeshi foreign worker passed by and had compassion for this man. He went to him, bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He then brought him to a nearby motel, and took care of him. Next morning, he told the front desk clerk, "Take care of him, I'll repay you when I get back." Then Jesus asks, "Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?" The lawyer says, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus replies him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)Altruism, the kind that is motivated by empathy and compassion, is indeed possible. It's very difficult in reality, though. Optional reading for today: Taking back Christianity
Monday, November 8, 2004
I've been reseaching for the 'altruism doesn't exist, discuss' exam question, and I think the answer I'd give is 'it exists, but the extent of it is mediated by certain factors', and then use the theories to elaborate on the conditions when altruism's more/less likely to be displayed. Interestingly, the Parable of the Good Samaritan is mentioned in the textbook.
Posted by jeffyen at 10:17 PM