must resist the popular tendency to think of
transcendence as an upward and outward escape from
the realities of self and world. Instead,
transcendence is a breaking-in, a breathing of the
Spirit of love into the heart of our existence ...
that allows us to regard ourselves and our world
with more trust and hope than ever before."
brutal slaying of Kitty Genovese shocked New York
City in 1964. Her assailant pursued and attacked
her three times over 30 minutes before finally
stabbing her to death. But something more
horrifying overshadowed the sickening violence.
Detectives later determined that 38 of Kitty's
neighbours had watched her ordeal from their
windows and not a single person had shouted
out or called for help.
subsequently coined a phrase: "The Bystander
Problem." They concluded that when many people are
present, we are less likely to respond. The
smaller the group, the higher the likelihood that
we'll take action in a crisis or
phenomenon has repercussions for the church and
all of us who call ourselves Christ-followers. We
may feel overwhelmed by the avalanche of pain
around us, or paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of
the brokeness in our world.
could I possibly do to make a difference?
Could my efforts possibly count? Isn't there
someone else more talented, more educated, more
passionate, more connected, more affluent, or more
able who will stand in the
tendency to see the whole and not the parts
stifles our response. The problems are so
enormous, where should we start? So we don't. But
if we could see one family and touch one life,
we'd begin the
Mother Teresa initially set out to found an Order
that would establish hundreds of centers in more
than 90 countries with over 4000 nuns and many
more thousands of lay workers? Or did she devote
herself simply to touching the lives of the poor,
sick, and dying in the slums of Calcutta - the
most people wrung their hands at the enormous
oppression under the Romans, Jesus set about
bringing liberty to the captives ... one at a
time. And the movement took hold as each one
reached one. What might the Lord do through our
lives this year if we collectively decided to
invest in a single other life? Might the movement
Genovese lives near us. If one of her neighbours
is willing to get involved, her death (or
suffering) might be averted. Centuries ago,
another bystander asked "Who is my neighbor?"
Perhaps this year, we'll be able to answer that
question clearly and unequivocally, and make a