The story is told in the Bible of a Jewish man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way, he came upon robbers who stripped him of his property, beat him up and left him for dead. A priest came by, saw the poor man dying, but passed on the other side. A levite came by shortly thereafter. The levites were the tribe of priests, descendants of Levi, son of Jacob. He too passed on the other side. A Samaritan, a gentile from Samaria, not a Jew, came by. He saw the injured man and had compassion on him. He took him to an inn and paid a lot of money (two dinari) to have the man looked after. He further promised to pass by later to check on him. In the Bible, this story is said not for the sake of it but to illustrate a point. Jesus asks a crafty lawyer (lawyers have been crafty for long, haven’t they?) who had been intent to justify himself having been outwitted on the first response, “who among these was a neighbour to the injured man?” The lawyer gave his answer. What is yours?
When we read this story, it seems so obvious and clear that the Samaritan was the decent human being. Many of us would even curse the priest and the levite. Were it in the modern day era, the video would have gone viral and the priest and the levite would have… well we know the story.
So you know what, let us move this story to our modern times. Were it election time in Kenya, this story would have a most interesting twist. You see, it is assumed that the injured man was Jewish. Samaritans were gentiles and loathed by the Jews. In fact, any close association with Samaritans was frowned upon.
Let’s make this a story in Kenya in the 21st century. Let’s make the three passersby potential leaders running for elective posts. Who would we have voted for? It is easy to say that we would have chosen the Samaritan while in fact evidence shows that we would almost certainly have voted for one of our “people”: either the levite or the priest. You see, at election time, we discard the principal qualities of humanity and focus on nonsensical things such as tribe and party affiliation. We are therefore happy to vote for a thief from our tribe, and insult the Good Samaritan as he is not “ours.” The thief later steals from us and from our children and we lament and suffer the pain and come the next election, we vote again for our thief not realizing that tribe, party and colour do not make us neighbours nor closer.
Therefore, let us look at the story of the Good Samaritan again and ask ourselves, who is our neighbour? Who would we choose as our leader? A true neighbour or our tribesmen and partymen? Is a neighbour the one with whom we share a common ancenstry or the one who stands for us and for the right thing?
It gets worse. You see, when we vote for “our people,” are we really voting for our people? I put it to you that your people are your spouses, children, parents and siblings. I put it to you that voting for your people is voting for their future: economic, social services, security, justice. When you vote then for a thief from your tribe instead of a progressive from another tribe, you are actually betraying your own people and voting against them and their future! It doesn’t help that party nominations in Kenya cannot pass the most basic of integrity tests and are often an insult to electoral processes and the electorate. In voting for your tribe and/or party instead of a real leader, you are voting against yourself and your own future!
Please see my blog post on failed leaders to have a complete view of elections. Perhaps we will learn something and start making decisions that benefit our country come election time.