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Three Ways to be a Good Neighbor to Disaster Survivors
Three Ways to be a Good Neighbor to Disaster Survivors
What the Good Samaritan parable can teach us about helping after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

You are more likely to run into or cause trouble if you get involved in disaster response for the wrong reasons. Make sure your desire to help is not being driven by external motivations, like the possibility of personal gain or benefit. Examples might include wanting to help to be “in the action,” to see what is going on, or because you want to be known for doing “good.” Well-meaning but poorly thought out help is the kind of help that no one needs. Jesus used Socratic questioning to unveil the expert’s motivation; we recommend doing the same to evaluate your motives before volunteering.

Know your neighbor

Reach beyond your comfort zone; focus especially on helping underserved and vulnerable neighbors affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Don’t cross to the other side of the road, like the priest or Levite, if you encounter someone in need whom you perceive to be different than yourself. Disasters impact those with fewer social or economic resources more significantly. Because they have fewer resources at hand, it also makes recovery typically longer and more difficult.

Following the Good Samaritan’s example means broadening your notion of neighbor beyond shared geography and backgrounds. You are called to show compassion to all people, regardless of religion, class, or difference—not just survivors you might easily identify with or relate to.

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September 12, 2017