As I watched Denzel Washington’s character in the movie, The Equalizer, it reminded me of the violent Biblical story of the Good Samaritan. The blood and violence in the movie aren’t detailed and outlined for us in the Biblical story, but it is the same story. A man is robbed and left for dead. A good person finds the man, shows compassion, and addresses his needs. This is the story line in the Equalizer as I saw it.
In this movie that made over $35 million in its opening weekend, Denzel’s character assists several people who are being robbed in some way of their money, property, dignity, and humanity. And without any motivation, other than helping a fellow human being, he selflessly lends his assistance.
Denzel’s character epitomizes the Good Samaritan, and the Great Command to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But as the movie progresses, we see that Denzel’s character does not have a superficial “love of neighbor” we readily see today. The love he shows is the love Jesus referred to in the Good Samaritan story that requires personal risk, sacrifice, and the inability to bypass a neighbor, especially in their most critical time of need. And when Denzel’s character befriends a young girl who frequents the same diner as he, who just so happens to be a victim of sex trafficking, he extends this “neighborly love” to assist her.
One night in the diner, as the girl shared with Denzel’s character her dreams of becoming a singer, he told her she could be whatever she wanted. “In your world that’s true, not in mine,” she replied. He told her “change your world.” But he quickly learned that changing her world was not something she could do on her own. She would need his help. He gave it! Like the Good Samaritan, he extended himself and took personal risk to help the girl, where others turned a blind eye.
Unlike the owner of the diner who generously offered the girl free pie, but reminded her that “her work was calling her” as a car horn blew to pick her up for a “date,” Denzel’s character generously offered her something she didn’t dare hope for, freedom! While he knew her freedom would cost him, the good neighbor in him couldn’t just walk by and leave her in her painful situation. It seemed that helping her, and others for that matter, was his responsibility as a good neighbor and member of the community.
Much like the girl in the movie, there are hundreds of thousands of girls in America, some as young as 12 years old, who long for freedom from sex trafficking. And if communities, churches, and individuals would stop behaving like the diner owner who offered superficial remedies for her problem, and offered some real solutions like housing, trauma care, and other programs and services, we could free all the girls who are enslaved today! If individuals and communities could even go further, like Denzel’s character, and commit to “cutting the head off the snake” by committing to dismantling the system of sex trafficking, we could defund a 32 billion dollar criminal enterprise that is literally built on the backs of young girls.
If only our communities had more Good Samaritans, like the one Denzel Washington played in this movie, we could have more young girls who would be living their dreams, instead of experiencing the nightmare of being owned and enslaved in sex trafficking.