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God Bless the Good Samaritans, A Vanishing Breed : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan

Most people know the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus had been teaching people that they should “Love thy neighbor as thyself” so people started asking who did he consider their neighbors.  Who did Jesus expect them to love. Jesus then told the story of a Jewish man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothes, robbed and wounded him, and then left him to die.  As the man lay dying on the road three people passed him by over time.  The first was a priest who, when he saw the man. moved to the other side of the road.  Then along came a Levite who also moved to the other side of the road and passed by when he saw the injured man. Most likely these men passed by because they did not want to risk become “unclean” as both would have been required to go through an extended ritual once they came in contact with blood,  To become clean again they may have had to return all the way back to where they came from and then start their journey over.  But, as was the major flaw in the spirituality of the Jews of Jesus’ time, they put much more stock into maintaining regulations and observing ritual then they did into showing love.  Jesus was trying to show the correct priority through the parable which ended with a Samaritan stopping to help the man.  Now, Samaritans and Jews were forbidden to connect with each other in any way.  That’s why it was a huge deal when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well.  They were forbidden to speak to each other, eat with each other and especially to touch each other.  Even so, the Samaritan had compassion on the injured man and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, set him on his own donkey, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day, when the Samaritan left, he took out two pence and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’ Reaching the end of his story, Jesus then looked at the crowd and said, now which of these three was neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves? People in the crowd answered, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Then said Jesus to them, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

In our day and age, despite all our education, religion, and supposed civility, the likely outcome of the parable would be the same.  We might have different reasons for not helping but it still amounts to turning our backs on the injured man.  Our concerns would be “What if he sues me?” “What if, by moving him off the road, I become responsible for a new injury?”  “What if this is a trick and the injured man is just faking it and robs me?”  “What is he’s got three buddies hiding nearby who are ready to jump me?” “What if he’s sick and I could get a disease from touching him?” If by some rush of sudden mercy we did take the man to a hospital, then we’d be worried about if the man had insurance?  What if the hospital tried to bill us?  What if the man was a fugitive and by helping him we got in trouble with the police?

And so on.  They are far more reasons to not help the man than there are to help him and most of us would not be willing to take the risk.  None of us would blame a woman alone for passing by or if it was late at night and this happened in a dangerous area.  The truth is, the only thing most of us would do is call “911” and report the situation, but many of us would not even do that because “we don’t want to get involved.”

I understand this even though, most of my life, I’ve been a person who usually takes these kind of risks without much hesitation.  I’ve stopped to help people in trouble, picked up people on the street and taken them to the hospital. Not because I’m a hero, but because that’s how I was taught.  It’s the right thing to do.  I’ve never been able to develop the culture of indifference that so dominated our society.  A strange example is that one time in my mid 20’s I saw a car parked in a shopping center lot billowing smoke from inside.  There was a large crowd of people standing around watching and I asked, “Is anyone in there.” A bunch of people answered. “We don’t know.” It was one of those moments where God clearly tells me I have to do something I don’t want to do.  So I wrapped my hand in my jacket, walked slowly and cautiously to the car, pulled open the door and dropped to the ground.  There was no one inside.  I got back up and walked back to my car.  I think a few people even applauded. Moments later the police and an ambulance arrived and I went on my way.

The point is that this was not an act of great bravery.  This was just common decency.  This is what you do.  You see a car fly off the road and hit a tree, you stop and see about the people inside.  I’m not saying you dive into a fiery inferno or put your family at risk to check on a total stranger.  I’m just saying you don’t automatically write things like this off.  You at least do what you can do. Maybe that is only call 911 but you’d be surprised how many people wouldn’t even do that.

We live in a dangerous world, but we like to pretend that it’s not that way.  that’s one of the reasons we tend to look the other way when there is trouble.  Here are a few stories of people who didn’t.  Good Samaritans. There are fewer and fewer of them around.

GS1Charles Kwuelum grew up in Nigeria and became a priest there in 2004.  Nigeria has a population of 170 million, of which Muslims make up fifty percent and Christians forty percent. Charles realized the severe tensions between these groups and decided he would try to promote peace between them whenever he had the opportunity. One of the tools Charles used to bring the community together was sports. He would gather the community’s children, irrespective of their religion, and provide them with footballs, volleyballs, and a place to play.  It was only a matter of time before they were playing together and the community elders warmed to each other. Charles mediated between Muslims and Christians to help them resolve their issues.  One night on his way home, a tire burst on the car Charles was driving causing the vehicle to flip over several times and leave him pinned inside. He was injured and had no way to call for help.  Along came an elderly Muslim man on his bicycle heading home after a long day’s work. This man sold meat in the town market and recognized Charles from there.

With great difficulty, the old man pried open the door and pulled Charles out of the car.  When he realized that he couldn’t help Charles by himself,  he rushed back to the village and told people in the Christian community what happened and brought others to help Charles.  He crossed the invisible line between Christians and Muslims to do it.  This action triggered change.  “For this person to have rendered assistance and gone back to communicate with my community meant there was a breakthrough…It would’ve been unlikely before,” Charles explained.

Then there’s the story of Muslim Hassan Askari, who while riding the Q train into Brooklyn one Friday night noticed ten thugs hassling a young couple for replying ‘Happy Chanukah’ when greeted with ‘Merry Christmas’. Fearing for the woman’s safety, he pushed one thug away, and the gang pounced on the 5’ 7”, 140 lb. hero. This gave the two victims time to pull the subway’s emergency brake and summon help. Askari received two black eyes and a sore nose for his efforts, but never went to a doctor because he worked two jobs and couldn’t afford medical care. Victim Walter Adler (who received a broken nose and required four stitches for a split lip) was shocked that “a random Muslim kid helped some Jewish kids, (and) that’s what’s positive about New York”.

GS8Bao_Xishun

 

Here’s a strange one which involves the tallest man in the world.  Bao Xishuan is described as such by the Guinness Book of Records and he is 7ft, 8.95 inches tall.  His arm extends to 1.06 meters. Back in 2006, the Mongolian herdsman got the call from Chinese vets that he was urgently needed at the Funshun aquarium. Doctors there had not been able to remove painful plastic shards that two dolphins had swallowed, and the animals were slowly starving. None of the surgical instruments they had tried were able to remove the fragments. Once Mr. Bao arrived at the aquarium, workers pried the animals’ jaws open with towels so he wouldn’t be bitten and Bao reached deep into the animals’ stomachs and removed as many shards as he could find. The fragments he couldn’t reach were safely digested and the dolphins made a full recovery.

 

GS7Sometimes, it costs a lot to help people. On April 18, 2010, Guatemalan immigrant Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax saw a woman being threatened by a man wielding a knife. He jumped in and saved the woman but was stabbed by the attacker.  He died on the street in Queens, New York.  The woman and the attacker fled in different directions while he lay bleeding. Video surveillance caught the story on film.  It showed that one man stopped to photograph Tale-Yax with a cell phone. Eighteen other people saw or walked right past him. Not a single one of them tried to help him or even contacted authorities. The closest anyone came to helping was a man who shook the body vigorously, but walked away after seeing the pool of blood. Firefighters arrived fifteen minutes later, but by then it was too late.

Here was a man who gave up his life to help someone and died because no one would even bother to call 911 for him.  They say you don’t really know the kind of person you are until to find yourself in a crisis situation.  I think we all need to pray that if the occasion arises, we can rise to meet it.  Don’t worry.  You can be a good Samaritan without risking your life.  In fact, in most cases, all you’ll be risking is a little time or inconvenience.  Running away from a bad situation doesn’t make it go away.  Just make the call.  There aren’t many Good Samaritans left in this dark world. May God Bless every one of them.  Including you.

 

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The Author

James Riordan

James Riordan

Rare is it that any author will have one of his books described as the definitive work on a particular subject, but such a distinction has been bestowed by critics on no less than four books written by James Riordan. The New York Times Bestseller Break on Through, Riordan’s biography of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, has not only been called “the most objective, thorough and professional Morrison biography” by the Times Book Review but also named as one of the Ten All Time Best Rock Biographies by Amazon.com. Riordan’s The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco) was called “One of the best how-to books ever written” by the Los Angeles Daily News and “The ultimate career book on the music industry” by Recording, Engineer & Producer. Critics described Riordan’s The Bishop of Rwanda as “one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” and The Coming of the Walrus, Riordan’s novel about the 60s as “the definitive book on the era” and “a hilarious tale of a harrowing search for the greatest truth of all”. With the release of A Well Thought Out Scream and Madman in the Gate, Riordan pushed the boundaries again with poetry/song lyric books that contain hundreds of stunning, beautiful and poignant images from artists and photographers from all over the world. In the summer of 2013 a new edition of The Coming of the Walrus was released to rave reviews followed by The Kill Switch. The author of thirty-three books, James Riordan’s career began in the music industry where as a songwriter, manager, producer and concert promoter he worked with several well known artists. In 1976 he began writing a newspaper column, Rock-Pop, which he later syndicated. Riordan soon became one of America’s premier rock journalists with articles reaching millions of readers including those of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Circus, Musician, and newspapers like The Chicago Daily News and The Kansas City Star. His reputation for relating on a one-to-one level soon led to interviews with George Harri-son, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Mandrell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and countless others. His first book, The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco in 1980) became the largest selling book ever written about the music business. The guide to “succeeding in the music business without selling your soul” was praised by Variety ,The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Las Vegas Sun, The Minneapolis Tribune, Billboard, Record World and many more. The Platinum Rainbow became an industry-wide phenomenon and interviews with James Riordan were aired on over 1200 radio stations and numerous television talk shows. Next Riordan collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner Jason Miller on a mini-series for network television (The Irish) and a movie of the week for CBS (Bless Me Father). In June 1991, William Morrow & Co. published Break On Through to outstanding sales and reviews. Riordan worked as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s film of Morrison’s life, The Doors, which led to his writing Stone’s biography. Published by Hyperion /Disney in December 1995, Entertainment Weekly called STONE “an unflinching biography... enough spectacle to fill a month of daytime-TV talk shows.” The New York Post said reading the book was like “the sensory overload of watching all of Oliver Stone’s movies back to back.” Riordan was interviewed by Inside Edition, People Magazine, The Tom Snyder Show, and many others. From 1997-2000, Riordan created and co-starred in a local television program, Kankakee Valley Prime Time, which won six Crystal Communicators, three Tellys, and earned Riordan a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy Nomination for Writing the program. In the summer of 1999, James Riordan wrote, directed and starred in Maddance, an hour long dramatic project which won Crystal Communicators for Drama, Writing, Acting and Directing. On April 9, 2000, James’ 16 year old son, Jeremiah, was killed as a passenger in an accident that involved three drunk drivers. Shortly after this, James founded Make it Stick which works to warn teens of the dangers of substance abuse and publishes a magazine distributed to high school students. In 2001, he founded Jeremiah’s – A Place to be Yourself to give teens a place to hang out away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Force to close by its incredible growth rate, Jeremiah’s was recognized as one of the fastest growing and most successful teen centers in the United States. In 2004, Toastmasters International named Riordan Communicator of the Year for Central Illinois, the YMCA gave him their Service to Youth Award and the United Way named him the Outstanding Volunteer of Kankakee County. Returning to writing, Riordan went to Africa to write The Bishop of Rwanda, (with an intro by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). In November of 2006, Harper Collins released a new edition of Break On Through followed by The Coming of the Walrus (Image Workshop) in December and The Bishop of Rwanda (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) to rave reviews (“Powerful …plumbs the depths of God’s forgiveness and finds no bottom – Publisher’s Weekly). In 2011, he won the Pledge For Life Harold Award for his work with area youth. In the summer of 2012, Lee and Shane Stanley (Gridiron Gang) optioned Maddance as a feature film followed by Apothecary Films optioning The Kill Switch in 2013 and Omni Films optioning Final Service to film in May. Riordan joined the staff of the Mancow Syndicated Television and Radio show in January of 2014 and is now seen and heard across America on a weekly basis. His biography is included in Who’s Who in Entertainment , Who’s Who in Poetry and Contemporary Authors of America. James Riordan – Works Books The Kill Switch, novel with Andrew Dahlmaine, Stonegate Ink, 2013 The Coming of the Walrus, Trade Paperback Editn, Image Workshop 2012 Springboard To Heaven ( Jojo Sayson Adventure), Image Workshop, 2012 The Elijah Collection, novel collection with Bill Myers, Zondervan, 2011 The Well Thought Out Scream (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 Madman in the Gate (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 The Deadly Loyalty Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Ancient Forces Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Enemy Strikes with Bill Myers (Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 Deception with Bill Myers (Book 2 Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 The Bishop of Rwanda (Finding Forgiveness) Thomas Nelson, March 2007 Paperback Edition May, 2012 The Coming of the Walrus (What Really Happened in the '60s) IW, 2006 Break on Through (The Life & Death of Jim Morrison), Morrow, 1991. (New York Times Bestseller, Published in 5 languages, Hardcover, 5 Paperback Editions, Harper Trade Paperback November, 2006) Stone (The Controversies, Excesses & Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker), Disney/Hyperion,1995. (Published in 3 languages, Hardcover, Paperback Edition). Making It in the New Music Business, Writers Digest Books, 1987, (Second Edition, Revised and Updated 1991, Two Hardcover Editions) The Platinum Rainbow (How to Succeed in the Music Business Without Selling Your Soul) 250,000 copies with Bob Monaco, Swordsman Press, 1980, Twenty-Three Editions, Revised 1988) 25 Year Anniversary Edition, 2005 Capture the Wind (Microphones) w.Tom Lubin, Literary Mouse Press,1989 Private Biography of Russ Kalvin, founder of Kalvin Corp., 1990 Private Biography of Steve Stefano, founder of Joico Hair Products, 1993. Mystery of the Invisible Knight (Book 2 in the BloodHounds Series) with Bill Myers, Bethany House,1997. Matters of the Heart (The Life & Times of Edgar Cullman), Culbro, 1997. The Curse (Book 7 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1997. The Undead (Book 8 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1996. The Scream (Book 9 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1998 The Ancients (Book 10 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1999. The Cards (Book 11 Forbidden Doors Series) with Bill Myers, Tyndale,2000 Films Final Service, co-written with Gary Moore and based on his book, Omni Productions, to be filmed in May, 2014. Maddance, Writer/Director/Lead Actor, Search Engine Films, Simmcomm, 1999. (Winner of 4 Crystal Communicators including Best Drama, Screenplay, Director, Male Actor – Austin, TX.1999) Performance (The Life of Ingrid Bergman), Screenplay, Lancit Productions 1998. Returned to Author when film division closed)Rewritten2009 Shadowdancers, Story & Screenplay, Story with Bill Myers, 1997 Dr. Babylon, Story 1996. Air Guitar, Story & Screenplay, 1994 The Platinum Rainbow, Story & Screenplay, 1993 Television/Video Kankakee Valley Prime Time, Writer, Director, Producer, 1997-2000. (Nominated for Midwest/Chicago Emmy for Writing, 1998, 3 Telly Awards, 4 Crystal Communicators 1998-2000). Angels Among Us (The Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Disaster, Co- Producer, (Telly Award, 2000). River Valley Sports Authority, Producer, 1999-2003. I Hate The World (Hypnoises Music Video), Writer/Director/Producer, Crystal Communicator for Best Music Video Concept, 1998). The United Way (Video) Crystal Communicator for Best Video for a Charitable Organization, 1998.

If it isn't money and it isn't fame and it isn't sex... then what... God?

— James Riordan, 2000

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