Loving neighbors is loving whom?

The command we have been given to love our neighbors as ourselves is clear. When we consider our actual neighbors, of whose many, many faults we are acutely aware, we find that it’s a surprisingly difficult order to obey. Most of us are far more aware of our neighbors’ faults than our own, and we may tend to treat them as the (grossly?) flawed creatures that it’s always easy to see them as. Indeed, some of us often feel we have a duty to familiarize ourselves with our neighbors’ faults, and share those thoughts with surprising frequency.

When we reflect upon our feelings about our neighbors, we may find that they reflect our feelings about He Who programmed them. If we look, we automatically find another reflection; our neighbors feel the same way about us as we feel about them.

Those not committed to obeying the injunction to love their neighbors sometimes tend to despise them. As they do so, they find themselves sharing negative feelings about their neighbors with other neighbors. Frequently, those who have received those opinions feel a duty to share them with the very neighbors whom have been disparaged. Harmony is thereby discouraged.

“Neighbor” means “nearby dweller”. Since we know that the Creation Program spans what we think of as millions of light years, it’s not unreasonable to think that “neighbor” means everyone on our tiny planet. Certainly, a person living twelve and a half thousand miles away, as far away from us as it’s possible for a non-astronaut to get, is a “neighbor” when compared with people who may be thought to live somewhere beyond Alpha Centuri.

As we attempt the process of considering everyone in the world our neighbor, we come face-to-face with the fact that a billion or so of our neighbors are in a religion teaching that those who are not of their faith must either be killed or converted by any means necessary. Similarly, we have hundreds of millions of other neighbors who have embraced political theories that put the means in place for putting their own hatred and dislike of virtually everyone into practice.

We may conclude that we’ve been given marching orders that send us to death. Or, we may give serious thought to what may be regarded as a “just war”. There’s always a lot to think about.