Loving My Neighbor

The Second Great Commandment, Jesus tells us, is to ``love your neighbor as yourself.'' Who is my ``neighbor'' in this commandment? Thought you'd never ask. The fellow Jesus was talking to at the time asked. Everybody knows the answer. It's not the guy next door whose dog poops on your lawn (but it could be). Jesus answered with the story of The Good Samaritan.

Samaritans in that Jewish culture were the niggers of the deep South, the spics of California, and the wops of New York. Nobody liked them. It was mostly prejudice, perhaps augmented by some reciprocation. The way Jesus told the story, it was not the nice Jewish man having pity on the down-and-out Samaritan, it was the other way around. It was even credible. Persecuted people tend to be more sympathetic to mishaps in other people than successful people are.

The point of the story is that this despicable half-breed was obeying God's Commandment, while -- well, Jesus didn't go there. Jesus was being relational, sort of, at that point by not insulting the guy asking the question.

The story is not impossible. The Commandment is not impossible. Just do for that poor bloke what you would want somebody to do to you, if you managed (worst luck) to get mugged and find yourself in that place. That's what loving your neighbor means.

Loving your neighbor is not feeling warm and fuzzy over them. It's doing for them what they need doing. What you would want done to you, if you were in their spot. Maybe that's just a hug. More often it fixes a specific problem. That's a Thinker thing. Thinkers like to fix problems.

Loving your neighbor means that if you are a politician in charge of improving ghetto schools, if your own kids go to private school (most politicians in Washington send their kids to private schools because everybody knows the DC public schools are the worst in the country), give the ghetto kids a shot at private schools too: give them vouchers. That's loving your neighbor.

Loving your neighbor means that you should imagine what you would want to happen if you were broke and jobless and the economy is ruined by corruption, and you had a chance to sneak into a rich country with closed borders, and you were able to work there at jobs nobody else wanted and earn your living and support your family, imagine how you would feel about being arrested and thrown back out into poverty and starvation, then look at ways to help those people instead of mercilessly deporting them. Your ancestors also came here as imigrants looking for a better life.

Loving your neighbor means that if God puts somebody in front of you who needs help, and you can help them with what they need, do it. It's what you would want them to do for you, if the tables were turned. It's the Golden Rule, and you can do it. It's not hard.

The hard part is wanting to. We are selfish. We want to keep what we have.

I'm not advocating socialism, it doesn't work. Socialism is coercive. The Commandment is voluntary. You help the other guy because you want to. Because God said to do it, and it's a good thing to do. Government programs are coercive. They force you to pay taxes. They can do that, by God's command, but that's not the Golden Rule, it's just what governments do. The Golden rule, the Second Great Commandment is to voluntarily help other people. Not everybody -- you can't -- just help the people God puts in front of you today.

And we don't even want to do that much.

``All have sinned.'' All have selfishly passed by on the other side of the street, instead of providing useful help. We all screw up, one time or another. We all build up bad karma. It's a good thing we don't get reincarnated, there would be far too many roaches and lice. Hmm, they might have something there.

God did something better than just loving your neighbor the way you want to be loved. God gave His own Son to erase your karma and mine.

So that we really can love our neighbor with a clean blank record.

True forgiveness, the kind God gives us, is not feeling good about the other person, it's erasing the karma. But they have to want it. You have to want it. That sounds relational, but it requires a Thinker way of thinking about it.

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Rev. 2012 July 3