Just before 5:00 p.m., January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, the capitol of Haiti. In seconds, 250,000 homes and 30,000 buildings were reduced to rubble, and hundreds or thousands of people lay dead or dying. The poor quality of Haitian construction ensured that the number of crush injuries was off the charts. With the infrastructure gone, those who escaped death soon faced thirst, hunger and disease. As images of horror flashed on television screens around the world, a twenty-one year old college student in Utah was moved to action. Within a few short weeks, my daughter Tracy was on the ground in Haiti conducting triage and assisting Haitian orphans.
Tracy has long been my inspiration. Born with an unusually compassionate heart, she embodies the true meaning of the word ally. When a tornado hit Joplin, MO in May of 2011, Tracy was there to help. She has traveled the world serving the poor, the hungry and the oppressed. Were it not for her example, I would never have become a male ally.
As unusual as Tracy is in the wider world her compassion is shared by many people I have met through Ordain Women. The common denominator is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another. While some claim that supporters of Ordain Women are “power hungry,” and “in it for their own gain,” this is not true. The women I know through Ordain Women are allies in other causes. They advocate for LGBTQ rights, volunteer to help the poor, run youth programs, fight for civil rights, and stand up for the marginalized. Likewise, the men of Ordain Women are involved in numerous causes, in addition to promoting equality within the Church.
Ally ship is the road to a higher morality. In the tribal world of the first century C.E., Jews and Samaritans we rivals. To Jews, the Samaritans were “the other,” “the lesser,” “a people to be despised.” In this context, Jesus explained the true meaning of “neighbor” to an expert in the Jewish law by telling the following story (Luke 10:30-37):
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
We become a true ally, when we can see the world through another’s eyes. We become compassionate. We learn to truly love. We are able to follow Jesus’ admonition to “Go and do likewise.”
Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.
Mark Barnes, the author of this post, is on Ordain Women’s Executive Board and is the Chair of the Male Allies Committee.