A parable for today
A man was travelling from Pimlico to Westminster when he fell among muggers, who beat him and stripped him of his credit cards and left him for dead. It started to rain.
There came that way a bishop clothed in purple, who, when he saw the man lying on the pavement, said to his chauffeur: "Draw up here, Jenkins. but keep the engine running. I'm already late for the conference on world poverty." He lowered the window just far enough to put out his hand and, making the sign of the Cross, he said: ' In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Drive on Jenkins." And he passed by on the other side.
There came that way a member of the International Marxist Group, who, when he saw the man, said: "I embrace you - metaphorically of course - as a fellow victim of the capitalist system. With any luck you'll die. The heroic struggle of the workers needs a martyr or two." And he passed by on the other side.
There came that way a philosopher from the University of Oxford, who, when he saw the man, said: "Though it is true that the evidence of my eyes suggests that there is a man lying on the pavement, it is not a logical step to conclude that because he is lying on the pavement he is in need of my help. On the contrary, the fact that he has been immobile for several minutes suggests that he may be beyond any help I could give even if I decided to give it. Even if he is alive (whatever that may mean) it is by no means certain that he would welcome my help: he might have chosen to lie on the pavement, in which case he would regard any action of mine as an unwarranted interference with his free will as expressed in his decision to lie on pavements." And he passed by on the other side.
There came that way a member of the Government, who, when he saw the man. said: "This is a problem we inherited when we came to office. We are already taking the most strenuous measures to deal with it. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that you will be one of the last people left to die on the pavement." And he passed by on the other side.
There came that way a member of the Opposition. When he saw the man he said: "This is a direct result of the present Government's policies. I give a most solemn promise that when my party is returned to power, people like you will not be allowed to die on the pavement. And he passed by on the other side.
There came that way the Headmaster of a nearby public school, who, when he saw the body lying on the pavement, said to himself: "Oh dear, I hope he's not one of ours. " And he hurried by on the other side.
There came that way a pop star in his powder-blue Rolls-Royce who, when he saw the man, called out to him from the moving car saying: "I identify myself with the oppressed in all the world. I love you man, I love your face, I love the whole goddam stupid human race. "And he drove by on the other side.
Finally, there came that way a lunatic who had recently escaped from an asylum. He was incapable of logical thought. He understood no politics, possessed no ideals, performed no civic duty, held no position in the world, paid no taxes and gave no alms. He had the mind of a child. His family had secretly hoped that he would not survive until manhood because they found the burden of his abnormality too hard to bear.
When he saw the man lying on the pavement he went up to him and lifted him, body, blood and dust, and carried him in his arms to the nearest hospital.
The lunatic arrived at the hospital. He carried his burden into outpatients and laid it on a table. A doctor examined the man and said: "This man is dead. Who brought him here?"
"I," said the lunatic.
"You must be mad," said the doctor.
And they laid hands on the lunatic and thrust him into an asylum.