By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist
The new year may be a good year to “reach out and touch someone,” as the old advertisement used to say. I often talk to my classes about this — reaching out and touching people. We examine the characteristics of caring, loving people and then I explain the Ethiopia Concept to them. Don’t try to find this concept in a textbook or in educational literature. It is only a personal thought but I believe it gets the idea over well.
The Ethiopia Concept prompts the student to concentrate on three different questions:
Have you been to Ethiopia?
Do you know anyone in Ethiopia?
Do you know where Ethiopia is?
Most of my students miss out on the first two questions, but I have students who know and readily respond: Africa.
Then I ask them: When you see starving children on television and they are victims of the famine in Ethiopia, do you feel sorry for them? Do you hurt for them?
Of course the resounding answers all across the room are “Yes! Yes we do!”
Then I ask: “Why? None of you have been to Ethiopia. None of you know anyone in Ethiopia and few of you know where Ethiopia is! Why do you feel sorry for them?”
Well, they don’t know at that point. They give me several answers: Because they are hungry and hurting; because they are helpless. After an array of answers, finally one student will come forth with what I am looking for. They will answer: “Because they are human beings.”
I tell my students that that one fact alone, because they are human beings, is reason enough to reach out to them.
Pose this question around town and some will say: “Well, we can’t feed the world. We need to think about home.” But in reality, would most of those people go out of their way to feed someone in hometown America? Would they volunteer in a homeless shelter or mission to feed hungry people?
On the spiritual side, Mother Teresa called it the Jericho principal. It was a referral to the story about the road to Jericho where the story of the Good Samaritan took place. He stopped to help the Jewish man who had been beat up by robbers and left to die. Two others passed, one even a priest, and refused to stop. But the Samaritan, whose ancestors had traditionally been enemies of the Jews, stopped to help the wounded man, took him to town and paid money to have the local innkeeper see after him until he got better.
Mother Teresa said we all have our Jerichos everywhere. It may be in Clovis. It may be in a schoolroom. It may be someone down the street or a neighbor. It may be someone in another city or it may be in some slum-decorated street in the heart of Calcutta. We all have Jerichos in our life. These are areas of need where people must reach out in the name of Jesus.
Mother Teresa further said we just have to have the eyes to see our own personal Jericho. I am sure Mother Teresa now sees the scope of her influence. She knew that principle well. Would that we all could be as true as she to the words of the Lord: “Whether you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have really done it unto me.” My prayer is that we all be sensitive to our own personal Jerichos.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org