Cross over the road

June 3, 2020 · Print This Article

Why this particular tune resurfaced out of my subconscious, I’ll never know. But there I was, humming an old song that I last heard in Primary School: “Would you walk by on the other side, when someone called for aid?” I can’t recall all of the lyrics, but I do remember that this song, Would you walk by on the other side[1] encourages us not to turn our backs on those in need. In a great piece of imagery, we are encouraged to ‘cross over the road’ to reach out to those who are in distress.

Yet, it wasn’t the sentiment of this tune that stopped me in my tracks. Instead, it was the irony of my situation. For the last 10 weeks, I have been constantly crossing the road, but not in order to help others. The coronavirus situation demands that I avoid others; I am practicing social distancing. Such action must surely follow the sentiment of this song, for I don’t want to be responsible for this disease spreading to anyone who is vulnerable.

However, I do hope that social distancing doesn’t infect our society’s long term behaviour. I yearn for the day when I will cross over the road to greet someone, rather than to avoid them. But I am aware that it has already become a habit to automatically distance myself. I will need to re-educate my learned behaviour. I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard to unlearn an ingrained habit! It may require some effort. Perhaps I worry too much.

Another line of my remembered tune states: “Ask the lord his strength to lend, his compassion has no end – cross over the road.” Apparently, the ‘lord’ in this song is referring to Jesus Christ, someone who was recorded as reaching out to the vulnerable. Jesus was not ashamed of people in need. Even lepers received his attention; all outcasts banished from society were genuinely received by Jesus.[2] Such stories inspire me to look forward to the time when I can unlearn my new habit.

I’m not sure where that song was hiding, but I’m glad it escaped the clutches of my subconscious. The restrictions of today may last a long time, but they won’t be around forever. There will come a time again when I will be crossing the road to help – rather than to avoid – others.

Ian Woodley

[1] “Would you walk by on the other side,” by Pamela Verrall
[2] One example is found in the Gospel According to Mark, chapter 1 verses 40-45
Photo by Michael Descharles on Unsplash
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