This past Sunday the children's lesson was the familiar story of the Good Samaritan from the gospel of Luke. The definition of neighbour in the parable Jesus told included all people, particularly those with whom we have nothing in common. A neighbour is anyone in need of compassion and assistance. I introduced the Bible lesson with a few pages from Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who* with the repeated line, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Horton the elephant took responsibility for needs of the tiny Whos even when he was ridiculed and persecuted for doing so.
The attention of the world in on Japan and the devastation caused by last week's major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Humanitarian aid has been offered from many governments and individuals as people reach around the world to assist those in great need. Some students in my class had not seen any pictures from Japan and young children should be shielded from graphic media images. But I wanted to share something about the country, its people and culture so the children could identify with their global neighbours who are suffering at this time.
We made onigiri which is a simple rice ball with or without a filling. Each child took a triangle of sticky rice and garnished it with their choice of nori, sprouts, vegetable and fruit cutouts and edamame. They ate the bento rice balls and asked for more. I was pleasantly surprised with their acceptance of new foods and their interest in people beyond themselves.
We prayed for those in need and talked about ways we can help neighbours close to home and far away. Problems in our world are ever present and it is hard to know how our small contribution will make a difference. We cannot help everyone but that should not stop us from helping someone. As technology shrinks the world, we feel the impact almost immediately when a global neighbour is in trouble. Doing to others as we would have them do for us if we were the ones in need is the golden rule we must practice.
*Dr. Seuss dedicated this book to a Japanese friend and apparently wrote it as an allegory for the American post WW2 occupation of Japan.
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