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As patient-centered medical care has taken hold in recent years, there’s been a growing interest in finding ways to use outcomes reported by individuals to help guide care.

St. Peter was faced with a decision about who is the true hero of American health care reform.

Most Christians as well as non-Christians are familiar with the parable of the good Samaritan. In the parable, a victim lying beside the road is ignored, first by a church leader and then by a person of community status. It is a lowly Samaritan who performs first aid, and who delivers the victim to be cared for by an innkeeper at the Samaritan’s own expense.

St. Peter had been told that there had been a modern-day re-enactment of the parable somewhere in America, and to prepare a banquet to honor the present true good Samaritan. But now, a minister, a donkey, and an elephant were at the pearly gates arguing over who should be given the hero's welcome into heaven.

The minister, first to pass by the current victim, argued: "I used my gifts to pray for someone else to come by to help the victim. Therefore, I am the true good Samaritan."

The elephant argued, "I came by the scene right after the minister, but my rider was late for an important business meeting. If I had stopped to help the victim, thousands would have been out of work and without insurance. Therefore I am the true good Samaritan."

“I saw the big elephant stride right by the victim without stopping,” said the donkey. “So I immediately took my rider into town to rile up the people against the big and the rich. Clearly I am the true good Samaritan."

Just then yet a fourth candidate rushed up to St. Peter. It was the modern equivalent of the paid innkeeper who cares for the injured and sick. "It is my gifted care which saves victims like this one. I am clearly the only true good Samaritan.”

To sort out these conflicting claims, St. Peter went to get Jesus. But when Jesus came out to speak to the four, he had some startling news. “Why do you congratulate yourselves? Look back at Earth! The victim is still there, still lying beside the road, now near death. What do you have to say for yourselves?"

The minister said, "I will pray for him."

Jesus replied, "Will you not help?”

The donkey said, "Master, I know how much you hate rich people so as soon as the victim dies I am going to charge the 1 percent with murder for not doing more."

Jesus replied, “Where did you get the idea that I hate rich people? The true measure of sin is not wealth, it is arrogant pride and self-righteousness. But look at you. As a member of the 99 percent, I gave you 84 percent of all the income so that you might help others. Will you not help?”

The elephant retorted, "The victim might have deserved what he got, and anyway, sometimes bad luck just happens."

Jesus answered, "When 40 percent of Americans share just 6 percent of the income, do you really think that is just their bad luck? Will you not help?” 

The modern medical innkeeper interrupted, saying brightly, "The problem seems easy enough to fix, all I need is even more money, so I can do even more good!"

“You 'innkeepers' didn’t used to be this way,” remembered Jesus.

Then Jesus spoke unto the four saying, "I know you not. None of you has exhibited the direct compassion of the true good Samaritan. And he turned to St. Peter and said, “Show them all away, they do not belong here."

Then he carried the victim directly from Earth into Heaven for a banquet.

Warren George is a resident of Corvallis.


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