Good Samaritans in East St. Louis help doctor who got a flat tire on his way to perform heart surgery
Man has a flat. Guy gives him a ride. Another guy later helps him change flat.
White heart surgeon trying to get to a patient on the operating table hits a pothole and gets a flat in East St. Louis. Black man gives him a ride to Belleville in time for the operation. Surgeon returns for his car and Muslim gas station owner stays late to help him change the tire.
One description is an everyday event. The other is viral news.
Context matters, but perception may matter more.
The comments on the story of Dr. Bill Daily’s flat tire were an outpouring of personal stories about East St. Louis. The vast majority were about the city’s great people and spirit of community, about white drivers feeling safe and about how these three diverse men demonstrated the parable of the Good Samaritan.
But there are potholes. There is an unsettling amount of crime. There is an unfair concentration of poverty.
But those contexts may not be as important as perception.
East St. Louis residents rightfully see themselves as the city of champions. Superficially, that is about sports. In reality, that is about overcoming adversity and challenges to excel when few believe in you.
Is greater respect owed the winning team that got the breaks and had the big payroll, or the underdog team that pulled together and beat the odds?
Imagine the potential for a city smack in the heart of the region with that kind of spirit and that kind of tenacity. Imagine that character being harnessed for the greater good of the region, and the region working to improve the city’s context.
Imagine if we remember the parable’s final admonition: Go and do likewise.