Who Is My Neighbor? In Virginia, Not-So-Good Samaritans Ignore Dying Victim

Why would good people ignore a man who lay dying on the sidewalk?  Is it a prejudice that says “Oh, he’s just a drunk”?  A fear of getting involved?  Laziness, or a lack of empathy?  A failure to realize the gravity of his injuries?

On July 1, a man was struck by a vehicle near an Arlington, Virginia bus stop.  Thrown to the sidewalk, the dying man lay face down and motionless. 

And here’s the part that’s hard to understand:  Bus surveillance video shows that not just one, but many bystanders simply walked past and did nothing to help.  Someone had called 911; but the line of modern-day Samaritans climbing aboard the bus looked at the man, then boarded and went on with their lives.  One man, perhaps understanding the seriousness of the situation, made the Sign of the Cross as he paid his fare and took his seat.

Detectives in Arlington, hoping to identify witnesses who might be able to explain what happened, released the surveillance video this week.  The driver of the vehicle has been cooperative, but police hope to obtain corroborating testimony from others who may have seen the incident. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

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’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“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 Jerusalemto 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 be going down the same road, 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 traveled, 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. 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 innkeeper. ‘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 into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


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