Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at Riverside Church. It still resonates today. On this day of commemoration, I am striving to think about what being a Good Samaritan means in the sense that Dr. King meant it – that no one should be left by the roadside. I’m also reflecting on what it means as part of Opportunity International’s motivation, which states that we seek to emulate the Good Samaritan’s compassion which crossed ethnic groups and religions. This motivation guides us to ensure that no one is left by the roadside without an opportunity to build a future of hope and dignity.
I invite you to join me in this reflection. Also, join Opportunity’s conversation on Facebook and Twitter, telling us how you are reflecting on or acting on Dr. King’s legacy of service today.
Extracts from Dr. King’s speech at Riverside Church, 1967: “I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, […] I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children.
This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, […] for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”