“It’s the sense of touch.”
“Any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people. People bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much we crash into each other just so we can feel something.”
Those are the opening lines from the movie Crash. It’s a compelling movie about thirty-six hours, a dozen or so people, and how their lives intersect with each other. Some have thought the film to be primarily about racism and though that element is involved throughout, the movie is about something even more fundamental. It’s about the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Crash answers this in a provocative way though a story laced with the harsh urban realities we’ve grown accustomed to hearing about on the news and seeing portrayed on television and the movies. Though Crash is set in present day Los Angeles, it could just as easily be any other metro area . . . or even on a road from Jericho to Jerusalem.
There was a stretch of road that wound its way down from Jerusalem to Jericho that was as tough as any part of L.A. It was known as “blood alley.” Here man’s inhumanity to man was on full display. It provided the backdrop for a story Jesus told to answer the question, Who is my neighbor? The story He told was about a traveler who was assaulted, robbed, and left for dead. Two religious leaders happened by but instead of offering assistance to the man, both stepped across to the other side of the road. Later a Samaritan came by and, filled with compassion, stopped and helped the man.
I imagine that the story Jesus told of the Good Samaritan had much the same sort of impact on Jesus’ audience that Crash has on us today. There’s a confluence between the stories in that they both feature characters that differ both racially and religiously. Both are about people who hurt others and people who heal others and how all of us have done at least a little of both of these things. Both challenge us to do the hard work of healing in a world that is weary from its wounds but still hungering for human touch. Both stories teach us that our neighbor is, well, it’s anyone we meet. And Jesus told the lawyer that loving our neighbor as ourselves is what life is about (Luke 10:28)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” (Matthew 5:9).