30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
Over the course of my 66 years, I’ve heard people say that they can’t love anyone else because they don’t love themselves.
While I’ve no doubt that many of them had serious attachment disorders, I’m equally convinced that many people are using it as an excuse not to love, or even recognize, their neighbor.
I think there is a fundamental misinterpretation of what Jesus was saying.
I’m not claiming that Jesus told me directly, but I do believe that God is still speaking and that God speaks to me in many ways. Here is the way in which this commandment is revealed to me:
Love your neighbor because you and your neighbor ARE one. Do for your neighbor what you would do for yourself because you and your neighbor ARE one. Give to your neighbor what you would give to yourself because you and your neighbor ARE one.
I was pretty much born believing this. I don’t know where the belief originated in me, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe this, even through a lot of rocky years of having a very fraught relationship with God. Fundamentally, everyone on this Earth is my neighbor and part of me.
Would I make war on myself?
Would I refuse to feed myself?
Would I not avail myself of medical care?
Do I not try to live with dignity?
Do I not want to live out my spiritual beliefs without hindrance?
Do I not want to have a voice in my community?
If my answers are no, then how could I possibly think that other people deserve to be victims of war, of famine, of lack of medical care, of religious persecution, of silencing?
In agreement with John Donne that “no man is an island, entire of itself,” part of me is diminished every day when I learn of a new, horrific result of the polices that are governing this country and this world.
It is inconceivable to me that the director of Homeland Security can sit stony-faced before Congress and the world and blame parents for the death of their children while in Border Patrol custody.
It beggars belief that a person of wealth can shut down the government and put federal workers on furlough, meaning they will never be repaid for the time the government was shut down.
I can’t conceive of a mindset that allows millions of children to die with the gift of US weapons to a murderous regime.
I thought I had been suffering outrage the past two years; it is not outrage, though, it is grief, pure and simple. Grief that sometimes stuns me into a state of numbness. How do I help my neighbor and therefore help myself? At this time in my life, all I feel capable of is writing about it and speaking out about it, and showing kindness to the neighbors I see in person every day, whether I know them or not.
I’m not sure that is enough. God help us all.