Sunday, February 20, 2011

Action/Waiting Room Ethics


Two weeks ago my little sister got very sick so I took her there around 9:30PM. She is better, no worries…

Most of the time we were waiting was fairly inactive. There were several things I noticed as I looked around. I noticed a few husbands taking care of sick wives. A mother with her grown daughter. A grown daughter with her aging mother. A few families, one of the members was sick and the rest showed up. No one seemed to be by themselves. Until one man walked in alone.


He was a rough looking Hispanic man in his late 20s. About 5′8” 200 pounds, he looked like he used to be an athlete, but obviously wasn’t anymore. He seemed to have been hardened by the neighborhood that he may have grown up in. Wearing baggy jeans and a dirty tanktop to show off his many tatoos. His head was shaved clean and he had a swollen and bleeding eye. I assumed this was why he came in…


He started pacing back and forth in the room. He must have been trying to keep his cool by the look of anger on his face. A few minutes went by and another lone woman walked in and made a B-line to the phone that sat on a side table. She quickly picked up the phone, sat down and began to dial a number, making sure to keep her head low. The Hispanic man noticed her presence quickly and his anger was brought to rage at her sight. He started yelling profanities at her and telling her to leave quickly. The security guard behind the glass moved over to the window quickly to observe, but she seemed frightened herself.


The woman wouldn’t say a word, and didn’t budge, trying to make her phone call. The man grew louder and angrier. He started to yell for the security guard to remove her. It was at this time that he had his back to me and I could see the real reason he came to the ER. He had a golf ball sized gash in the back of his head, covered in blood.


The security guard appeared to be in shock. She didn’t know what to do so she just watched in silence, as did everyone else in the room. When he saw that the security guard wasn’t going to meet his demands he took matters into his own hands. He grabbed her by the hair and raised her up out of his seat. He then began to shake her head and tell her “get the f*$# out of here!”


When I saw that the security guard was not able to do her job I stood up in her defense. My blood was boiling, similar to the way it is now as I recall this event. I stood up, looked him in the eye and said, “You let go of her!”


He quickly moved all of his anger from the woman to me. He started yelling profanities at me, asking if I wanted to “take this outside.” I could think of no words to say that would be helpful. So I simply stood my ground and looked him in the eyes. I had already succeeded at my task anyways. The woman was not being harmed anymore. As he continued his threats 2 security guards came around the corner and escorted him outside.


Afterward several strangers asked me to recall the story from my perspective. So I preceded to tell the story over the next few hours to my new friends in the ER.


Its situations like this that call one to question things like, when is it wrong to be meek? When is being a peacemaker better? Or is it ever? What would I have done if the man had attacked me? Or if he hit the woman? Would I have moved in physically then? Was Jesus a pacifist? Or would he have stepped in physically to defend this helpless woman if things escalated?


Life is tough.

15 comments:

katyhelena said...

Great questions.
I'm glad you stood up for her.

Brent Bailey said...

You're right: life is tough with questions like yours, especially when you're trying to discern the character of Jesus from many different perspectives on what he would do. I think what you said about your duty was pretty significant: in that moment, your primary duty was to protect the helpless and not to punish the oppressor. Things do get a lot more complicated when the oppressor fights back, but it looks like your role in that particular situation was to protect the woman until God removed the man.

Tulisha Jackman Scott said...

Thank you for sharing, Jordan. I can't imagine being in that situation. I'm glad you defended the defenseless. You ask good questions. Please share if you find the answers.

Laura said...

Wow, Jordan. Thanks for sharing this. I'm wondering how we hadn't heard about it in MRNA over the past couple of weeks... I'm thinking that woman definitely saw Jesus in what you did for her.

Jordan Bunch said...

Thanks Brent. I'm glad, as you put it, "God removed the man." I was really thankful that it didn't get violent. I'm not sure how I would have reacted in that moment. I would like to think I would have just tried to restrain him, but for a man with a head wound that severe it might have been tragic. Thankfully the Lord was at work.

Jordan Bunch said...

Laura, I shared the story at one of the Luke 10 Thursday night things and with a few other individuals. I guess I just didn't realize the whole group didn't hear. Sorry about that!

And thanks for the encouragement.

Its also hard to know how to answer St. Francis' statement, "Preach the Gospel, when necessary use words." I think the gospel was displayed in actions as best as I could in that moment. I didn't notice the Spirit bringing any words to me in that moment, but I still have to wonder. In a situation like this, how can I point back to Jesus and not just to myself.

Jesus tells us to, "Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I always wondered how others would see the good things I do and not just glorify me. It seems like words would be necessary to point back to the Father. But maybe not...

What do yall think?

Cary said...

Our quest is to act as Jesus would have, no?

Seems to me your actions matched Jesus' story.

Steve Sr. said...

Thanks for the story. Thanks more for your courage. I look forward to the day when all of us who follow Jesus will have the courage to take up for the defenseless, the poor, the alienated...by fighting for laws that end discrimination, ending injustice where ever we see it, etc, etc. You're a good man, JB.

Anthony Parker said...

Great questions. The fact that your non-violent confrontation "succeeded" testifies to the "realism" of Jesus' ethic. No guarantees, of course. Some evil people won't back down. Then what do you do?

Jordan Bunch said...

Anthony, My quick answer I suppose is to attempt to subdue him in the least harmful possible way. I'm not sure allowing yourself to get beat to a pulp is what Jesus had in mind when he said turn your cheek... but maybe I'm wrong. After all, that is what he did on the cross...

Life's questions get even more difficult when you're trying to follow the King.

Jordan Bunch said...

Cary, I wasn't cleaver enough to draw a line in the vinyl floors or anything... but I suppose you're right.

Jordan Bunch said...

Thanks Steve, I appreciate your encouragement. You are always such a blessing to be around.

Belinda Bunch said...

I'm so proud of you, son! This could be an episode of "what would you do?" god protected you in doing the right thing! (but I can't believe you or Brittany didn't tell me tins story!)

Grace Abston Simpson said...

Oh, Jordan, bless your heart. You are a true Christian gentlemen~

Kathryn Stowe Abston said...

They were protecting their Mama, Belinda : )