Being a Neighbor

July 10, 2016

It is a story we all know, an example of which we are all well aware.  The story of the Good Samaritan has inspired people of all ages.  We need Good Samaritans. We need the inspiration of experiencing and seeing them do something necessary and great for others.  Compassion and care resides within this story.  Jealousy and prejudice is challenged.  Yet in our world of electronics in which our young people reside on the cyber pathway, how do we help them find ways to help the one in need, the one bruised and broken on the side of the cyber road?   With thousands of texts interchanged, with cyber bullying resulting in devastation for some, with suicide becoming a way out when it gets to be too overwhelming for some to overcome, how do we navigate?

Going viral is the rage.  Being popular in the moment is the quest.  Setting up friends on social media for one’s own personal gain has become common. In this climate the road we must look for is not Route 34, 31 or 25.  It is in cyberspace.  Our young people are constantly connected and all of the connection is not good.  How do we help them?  Installing filters and reading the social expressions of one’s child is a must.  Pointing out words and remarks that are devastating is crucial. Setting up a support network of parents whose children your child interacts with is crucial.  The violence of words is casting a huge web in the social media.  Letting your child know that when they observe others ganging up on a person in cyberspace, they may inform you immediately is crucial. Teaching them they can make a positive difference by informing you or another responsible adult is crucial. Instilling in them the trust that you will not judge, but will provide them with the help to reach out to that hurting person is crucial. The cyber road is causing great pain and the Good Samaritan now must be on the side of that road.  Our children and young people need our help.  Desperate chats and messages fly at all hours, ripping into others because of their color, size or popularity status.   It has become easier to stop a car on the side of the road and call the police for help on a highway than it is to stand up for those who are being hurt in cyberspace.

How do we become a neighbor in this climate?  We begin to act as parents in a united front who encourage children and teens to come to us and allow us to help them.  With the click of a button, a message can be sent to hundreds in an instant.  One young person’s mistake, made in a single moment of poor judgment, has the potential to go viral and change life forever, usually not for the good.  Monitor your children’s usage, obtain the software which will allow you to read their texts and recapture everything they have deleted.  Look at their posts and use your parental authority to shut things down when needed.

The highway is filled with the broken on the side of the road, left behind by the popular few.  Now is the time to become a Good Samaritan and to make a difference in the lives of our young people.

Rev. John J. Ouper