BE­WARE VAM­PIRES AND PO­LIT­I­CAL GOOD SA­MAR­I­TANS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Rick Wayne

If only for the ben­e­fit of the mem­ory-im­paired, per­mit me to rein­tro­duce The Good Sa­mar­i­tan para­ble: “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 Jerusalem to Jeri­cho when he was at­tacked by rob­bers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leav­ing him for dead. A priest hap­pened to be go­ing down the same road 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 the three do you think was a neigh­bor to the man who fell into the hands of rob­bers?’

“The ex­pert of the law replied: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

“Je­sus told him: ‘Go and do like­wise.’ ”

Upon my re­cent re-read­ing of the above, two thoughts had oc­curred to me: “neigh­bor,” as used in the para­ble, dif­fered from the or­di­nary mean­ing of the word: “One who lives near or next to another . . . a per­son, place or thing ad­ja­cent to or lo­cated near another.” Rather, it seems to re­fer to a per­son of char­i­ta­ble dis­po­si­tion.

It had also oc­curred to me, for the first time, truth be told, that the par­a­bolic Sa­mar­i­tan had not gone a-beg­ging on be­half of the mauled and help­less rob­bery vic­tim. He did not, in the fash­ion of some poass pseudo-so­cial­ist, robin­hood some os­ten­si­bly rich citizen on be­half of the ubiq­ui­tous allpur­pose mal­away.

He cer­tainly wasted no time shed­ding head­line­grab­bing rep­til­ian tears. Oh no; the proverb’s Good Sa­mar­i­tan dipped into his own pocket and pulled out two di­narii (an­cient Ro­man sil­ver coins, one of which in their time was worth ten asses)—a self­less demon­stra­tion of gen­eros­ity that brought to mind our own po­lit­i­cal Good Sa­mar­i­tans whose man­i­fes­ta­tions of love for neigh­bor and oth­ers ex­tra-re­gional are, for the most part, paid with the lifeblood of the poor and gullible in the pres­ence of mind­less re­porters with video cams—never with coins or pa­per from their own pock­ets!

Sev­eral hours fol­low­ing the un­stop­pable visit of Erika, more than one Newsspin reg­u­lar called to ex­press deep sor­row for our vic­tim­ized broth­ers and sis­ters in rav­aged Do­minica, while also ac­knowl­edg­ing the need to as­sist “in what­ever way we can.” Alas, for many such as­sis­tance did not in­clude do­na­tions from long be­lea­guered St. Jude Hos­pi­tal. As one os­ten­si­ble em­pathizer put it to the show’s host Ti­mothy Poleon: “The hos­pi­tal is so de­prived that pa­tients are re­quired to sup­ply their own bed sheets, medicine, ban­dages . . . so how is it the hos­pi­tal can send med­i­cal pack­ages to Do­minica? Char­ity should be­gin at home.”

Tim du­ti­fully re­minded lis­ten­ers that im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the Christ­mas Eve trough of 2013, we had re­ceived “from our sis­ter is­lands” much help—in­clud­ing a mil­lion dol­lars from St. Kitts-Ne­vis. Said Tim: “St. Kitts is not rich but that did not pre­vent its peo­ple from com­ing to our aid.” He fol­lowed that up with a small lec­ture on neigh­bor­li­ness.

In the mean­time my mind had scrolled back to Au­gust 2009 when the gov­ern­ment

of Saint Lu­cia, then as now in the de­bil­i­tat­ing grip of count­less re­ces­sion-re­lated con­se­quences, had do­nated a check for some $400,000 dol­lars to Tai­wan, “to help the coun­try re­cover from the catas­tro­phe re­sult­ing from Typhoon Mo­rakot.”

Keep­ing in mind the un­end­ing sala­cious spec­u­la­tions con­cern­ing the gov­ern­ment’s re­la­tion­ship with Tai­wan’s then am­bas­sador Tom Chou, it is all one can do now to sti­fle a cyn­i­cal chuckle. A pub­lished pho­to­graph of Stephen­son King and Chou hold­ing the sealed brown On St. Lu­cia Gov­ern­ment Ser­vice en­ve­lope that con­ceiv­ably con­tained the check, even now sug­gests cheap showbiz at its most ob­vi­ous. One can­not help won­der­ing why the gen­tle­men had cho­sen not to be pho­tographed hold­ing the ac­tual check, as is the cus­tom, es­pe­cially when Tai­wan is in­volved. Was King’s made of rub­ber? Was it a stage prop? It con­tin­ues not to make sense that a gov­ern­ment, whose sur­vival, even now, re­lies on Tai­wanese largesse could con­ceive of no other way to ex­press in the cited cir­cum­stance sym­pa­thy and grat­i­tude.

Ob­served King (at the time chan­nel­ing the Good Sa­mar­i­tan in his gov­ern­ment’s soul): “This do­na­tion is specif­i­cally in re­turn for the grass-roots projects that the Em­bassy of ROC (Tai­wan) in Saint Lu­cia has been do­ing in the past two years to help peo­ple who live in re­mote and less priv­i­leged ar­eas on this is­land.”

It was his wish that Tai­wan “will rise out of this dis­as­ter with an even greater will and de­ter­mi­na­tion to put mea­sures in place to fight fu­ture nat­u­ral dis­as­ters with the re­silience, hard work and tena­cious­ness of its peo­ple ad gov­ern­ment.” If only King had in­stead cho­sen to in­vest that $US100,000 in hur­ri­cane mit­i­ga­tion at Fond St. Jac­ques or in de­silt­ing the Bexon River or in for­ti­fy­ing the Deruis­seaux Road . . . If only he had used the money “to put mea­sures in place to fight fu­ture nat­u­ral dis­as­ters” at home.

But then, noth­ing is ever as it seems when po­lit­i­cal Good Sa­mar­i­tans are in­volved. It was not the first time the Tai­wanese am­bas­sador had will­ingly or oth­er­wise lent him­self to trans­par­ently stupid, not to say em­bar­rass­ing gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives here; and cer­tainly it was not the last.

Re­turn­ing to the Do­minica episode. One is not sug­gest­ing oh-so-Chris­tian Saint Lu­cia ought not to have lent a hand in the wake of Erika. But did our re­ac­tion have to be so ob­vi­ously re­lated to cheap pol­i­tics at pop­u­lar ex­pense? We are demon­stra­bly a gen­er­ous peo­ple, es­pe­cially so in the wake of dis­as­ters, nat­u­ral and of our own dumb de­sign. Even be­fore the ex­tent of the dam­age to Do­minica had been hinted at, the lo­cal Red Cross, as well as sev­eral pri­vate sec­tor en­ti­ties were en­gaged in var­i­ous forms of res­cue. But there must be lim­its to gen­eros­ity, es­pe­cially when such gen­eros­ity must be paid by our most vul­ner­a­ble. It makes no sense to me that our bereft hos­pi­tals should vol­un­tar­ily send to a coun­try in dis­tress med­i­cal sup­plies de­nied the sick and dy­ing at home—call me heart­less, if you must. Dy­ing is dy­ing, whether from be­ing too long with­out food or from be­ing washed away by wa­ter gone wild.

Shortly be­fore Erika struck, the United Work­ers Party un­der­took a much-ad­ver­tised fash­ion show, the pro­ceeds from which were in ad­vance marked for lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion. But soon af­ter Erika the party let it be known that the poor­est of Bruceville, Fond St. Jac­ques and so on would have to go on be­ing de­prived a while longer.

Ev­i­dently there was more po­lit­i­cal hay to be made from do­nat­ing the re­al­ized $5,000 to the cause of trough-rav­aged Do­mini­cans. I am here re­minded of 1Ti­mothy 5:8: “But if any pro­vide not for his own, and es­pe­cially of those of his own home, he hath de­filed the faith and is worse than an in­fi­del.”

With good rea­son Star­bucks has been widely crit­i­cized for car­ing about the Ama­zon while ne­glect­ing rank and file em­ploy­ees.

As of­ten our pro­fes­sional pullers of our chain have re­minded us, even as con­ve­niently they cite Derek Wal­cott and Sir Arthur Lewis, “we are a very imag­i­na­tive peo­ple.” Surely we can con­jure up a hun­dred ways by which to prove we care for dis­tressed Do­minica, other than by per­mit­ting our po­lit­i­cal Good Sa­mar­i­tans to sac­ri­fice us in their own self­ish in­ter­ests. For one, it might’ve made a won­der­ful im­pres­sion had each of our MPs de­ter­mined on their own to do­nate a year’s or even a month’s wages and en­ter­tain­ment al­lowances to a re­lief fund in the name of Sis­ter Do­minica. With some luck, Do­minica’s MPs might’ve been inspired to fol­low the Saint Lu­cian ex­am­ple!

Pr Kenny ac­cept checks Tai­wan

D

rime Min­is­ter y An­thony (right) ing a cou­ple more s from the cur­rent nese Am­bas­sador David Chang.

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