Imagine you come upon someone on “that” side of town. You’re late for an appointment and the streets are unfriendly. Badly hurt, this stranger groans in pain. What do you do?
If you’re a religious person, you might cross the street and offer thoughts and prayers. After all, the culprits might still be around. Perhaps you’re concerned with larger social issues. You would probably cross the street and then lobby for more police patrols. If people carried weapons, they’d be able to defend against such attacks. Or conversely, weapons are the problem and shouldn’t be widely available. While each of these may have merit, they do no immediate good for the person who is suffering.
Now imagine you’ve spent your life watching people cross the road to escape your suffering. Because you live in a ghetto much like this one, you know the danger of helping. Yet, you can’t keep walking. Instead of seeing this person as other, you see a kindred soul, a fellow human. And without thought, you find yourself moved with compassion. It isn’t safe, but it’s good.