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A Dangerous Unselfishness

January 29, 2018

This past month I have been reflecting on a sentence that Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his final speech in Memphis 50 years ago this April. He said, "Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness." What does this mean? How can unselfishness be dangerous? To explain, Dr. King, just like Jesus often did, goes right into a story to explain what he means. The story of the Good Samaritan shows that unselfishness is dangerous when we decide not to be, as King states, "compassionate by proxy" and when one has the capacity to project the "I" into the "Thou" and be concerned about our brothers and sisters – to put the needs of others above our own fears.

These days call us to develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. Some examples of dangerous unselfishness include the homeless outreach workers who go out every day to check in on our brothers and sisters living under bridges, along the river, and behind bushes. Dangerous unselfishness can be found in the humanitarian aid workers who travel miles on foot to place water on the migrant trails in Arizona desert to save lives. The communities and churches offering sanctuary to our brothers and sisters at risk of deportation embody a dangerous unselfishness.

When you are faced with the choice of helping someone along the Jericho roads of today will you ask yourself as the Samaritan did and as Dr. King stated, "If I do not stop to help my brothers and sisters what will happen to them?"

Paula Miller