The Common Good

Want to See the Face of God?

Did you see what happened in Louisiana over the weekend? A 26-year-old man was driving his pickup truck over a causeway on Lake Pontchartrain. His truck plunged over the railing and into the water.

Crowd of people walking, Kichigin /
Crowd of people walking, Kichigin /

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What happened next is inspiring.

A 45-year-old man was in a vehicle right behind. He stopped, peeled off his work pants, shirt, and shoes and dove into the lake to save the man. Other motorists stopped to help. One of them got a rope that they could lower into the lake as a lifeline. They all grabbed and pulled together — women and men, black and white, old and young — and rescued both of the men from the waters below.

The man who dove into the water to help had been on his way to work and had to go home and get dry clothes. He called work and someone volunteered to cover for him until he arrived.

“Anyone would have done the same thing if they were in the same position,” the man told a reporter for a television station.

Doesn’t that make you feel good? A true story about us in our best moments. A shared moment that reminds us of what we can be and what we can accomplish when we put our differences aside and act with compassion.

In that moment, the 45-year-old man didn’t stop and think about whether the man who had just gone over the edge deserved his help. He didn’t wonder who this other man was. He just stripped and dove in, putting himself at risk to save a total stranger floating by the side of the road.

And all the others immediately helped, too.

Nobody asked whether this stranger deserved their help. I’m guessing that none of them gave any thought to whether he was a Protestant or Catholic or Jew or Hindu or Muslim or atheist or agnostic. Black or white? Young or old? Conservative or liberal? Rich or poor?

None of that mattered. Here was another person who needed help, so they gave it. They inconvenienced themselves and even put themselves at risk to do so.

And yes, there were probably others on the bridge who were unhappy about was happening in front of them. Likely, some motorists were miffed that they were caught in a massive traffic jam that would mess up their schedule for the day. They were unhappy about being inconvenienced.

Meanwhile, others were plunging in and pulling out.

Those who know a God of love and compassion see something divine in that moment, something that needs to be emulated again and again. There are many people by the sides of many roads who need someone to jump in and help them stay afloat. They need us to work together without judgment or precondition to lower a rope and pull them back up to us.

Want to see the face of God? Look at the faces of those lowering the rope and see if you recognize a resemblance .

Joe Kay is a professional writer living in the Midwest.

Image: Crowd of people walking, Kichigin /

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