When is being a Good Samaritan not a Good Idea?

Growing up, I was taught that we should help those in need, especially those in serious need.  Helping others in need is at the core of most of the great world religions including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  But when being a Good Samaritan becomes extremely dangerous, even mortally dangerous, is there ever a time when it is morally ok to stop providing care to those in extreme need, especially when the mortal danger comes from the very people you are trying to help?

Last year when the German Chancellor opened up the borders of her country to allow in a million refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East for the very lives and for the lives of their children, I applauded her action.  “This is humanity at its best!”  I thought.

I just turned on the news to see that there has been another killing spree, this time in a mall in Munich.  The details about the shooter are not yet available.  We don’t know yet if this is the act of a mentally unstable person, an act of work place violence, or an act of terror.  But, earlier this week, a young refugee in Germany used an ax and a knife to attack innocent passengers on a train.  This young man had been taken in as a refugee by the German people, had been given shelter and care for two years by a German family, and had been given “Good Samaritan” assistance by the German government.  Yet, we now know that this young refugee committed his brutal, barbaric act in the name of Islamic terrorism—attacking the “Good Samaritans” who had helped rescue him from the conflicts in his home country.

And this attack comes after the savage slaughter of whole families in Nice, France, last week.

When is being a Good Samaritan not a good idea?  I don’t know.  It breaks my heart every time I see little children suffering in refugee camps in the Middle East or see the tragic results of attempts by the parents of these children trying to bring them to safety across the Mediterranean to Europe.  But it also breaks my heart to see images of refugees and immigrants slaughtering the very people who have given them refuge.

What is the answer?

I don’t know.

But it is very depressing to learn that being kind and compassionate is not always smart.

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