For example, in the past people who looked very different from me made me uncomfortable, so I would carefully avoid them. People who looked like they did drugs, or had a myriad of tattoos, or seemed very different than me would make me uncomfortable and this caused me to figuratively cross the road to the other side. I basically avoided eye contact and pretended they were not there. This made me feel more comfortable This discomfort and behavior eventually changed for me when I became acquainted with clients from a drug and alcohol rehab center and started speaking at their facility as a guest speaker. I learned that they are wonderful people who are literally fighting for their lives. They are truly heroes. Every once in a while one of them will thank me for my support of them, and tell me that normally "people like me" don't talk to "people like them". Most people cross the road.
Another example: My daughter needed to be pushed from class to class at the university she attends this past week because it was so painful for her to walk. After one day in a wheelchair she expressed strongly that she never wanted to ride in a wheelchair again. She said that she felt invisible. No one looked at her or talked to her unless she put forth the first effort. She said it was a real ding to her self esteem. She hated the way being ignored felt. (I know this is not always true. I have heard from quite a lot of people who have felt treated very kindly in a wheelchair. I have also talked to some who had my daughter's experience.) As we talked about why people would act this way, we decided that they were probably trying to be kind by not staring, or that they felt uncomfortable. The results were that she felt ignored and invisible. I thought back to my own actions when I have seen someone in a wheelchair, or in any other unusual circumstance, and I realized that I have been guilty of the same behavior. I have been uncomfortable and figuratively crossed the road.
One last example: Another daughter of mine lives in a community where virtually everyone around her prescribes to the predominant religion of the area. She does not. As a result she finds that people sometimes seem to mistrust her and her children, or treat her differently. She at times has felt ostracized or left out in her community. I have heard other people say that people won't let their children play together. This is also crossing the road.
I feel that in general most people are good. We have a desire to love, to be kind, to do good. When someone is physically hurt most would rush to help. It is the invisible wounds in our day and age that cause us to sometimes cross the road. I consider myself a very loving person who wants to be kind to everyone. I painfully acknowledge that I have also had times when I let fear or discomfort make my decisions, causing me to figuratively cross the road. (Which is different from an impression that you are not safe and need to leave.) This was a huge and humbling "aha" moment for me. I have been guilty of crossing the road at times instead of stopping to help, giving eye contact, or even just smiling and saying hi. These are the simple gestures that bind wounds and make a positive difference.
I invite you to spend a few minutes contemplating how you might be figuratively crossing the road, and what wounds you might bind up if you did something differently, and what positive difference that would make in many tiny ways in the lives of others.
I invite us all to be good Samaritans.