Love Thy Neighbor – Day 274 of 365 Days to a Better You

There’s a giant compassion gap in the very heart of our culture. You see it manifest on social media or when listening to talk radio. It may even lead to heated words at a family gathering.

What’s the problem? Millions of “woke” or”morally upstanding” people literally despise whole categories of people and believe they’re completely ethically justified in doing so. Names and labels flow from the mouth and the keyboard, in utter denial of the other person’s humanity or point of view.

It’s gotten so bad that some people band-aid a workaround strategy. They’ve stopped even communicating with people in certain groups. This passes for sanity in an increasingly dysfunctional social arena.

If I’m describing a struggle you’re having, I’m not here to point the finger at you. I am here to tell you it’s not healthy. You can’t really be woke or morally upstanding and despise whole swaths of your neighbors. You probably know that. Yet two words are longing to come out of your mouth, “But they…”

Two of history’s greatest spiritual teachers – Jesus of Nazareth and Siddhartha Gautama – had very clear words for us on this topic. I’ll paraphrase.

Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment. He replied, “Love the Lord God with all thy heart and love thy neighbor as ye love thyself.”

In another circumstance, Jesus said, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

Buddha was equally clear and on the same page. He’s recorded as saying. “He abused me, he hurt me, he robbed me. Those who harbor such thoughts know not peace. He abused me, he hurt me, he robbed me. Those who harbor not such thoughts shall find peace…for some do not know that soon we all die. Those who realize this cease their quarrels immediately.”

It can’t be much clearer. There’s no fine print. Jesus and Buddha didn’t have their lawyers review their teachings and tag on exclusionary language. They meant love everyone. No exceptions.

If you judge, you’ll be similarly judged. If you hold grudges and fight with other people, you’re on the very long road to enlightenment.

For those reading this who don’t care and are perfectly happy being in righteous conflict with your neighbors because they’re a special kind of evil, I can only say you’re stealing your own peace by failing to make peace. The vitriol that you put out into the world has to flow through you first and it’s toxic.

In a moment of enlightenment, it ceases to be about how wrong you think they are and becomes about how healthy you wish to be.

For those who know this is a problem for them and is stealing your joy, let me appeal to your better angels. If you could stand in the other person’s shoes for a few seconds, you’d see they are frustrated and baffled by you as you are by them.

You’d see that you both have common basic human needs and that you’re both attempting to get them met. You’d see that, like you, their perspective is not arbitrary. It has reasons, logic, and justification behind it just as yours does.

I can’t allow you to exit 2019 or I hope even this post without seriously reconsidering your tendency to group and judge whole groups of people. Yes. There are some beyond the pale that only someone better than you or I could love. That’s discovered, though, at the individual level not at the level of whole groups.

Let it go. Don’t contribute to this negative energy. You’ll be better for it and so will our culture. Hold fast to your views, but never lose your love for ALL your neighbors.

You’re all amazing. Have an awesome weekend. April and I are in the road to a family event. Safe travel to you wherever tomorrow take you.

Ray

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Empathy Must Inform Our Cultural Dialogue

Empathy is the mark of an evolved being and yet our popular culture relegates to a status below judgment, anger, and retribution. Why is that?

Do you agree we need a cultural dialogue more filled with empathy?