Monday, January 30, 2017

“LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR” (Lev. 19, 18)

It is a pleasure to love the lovable.  It is a joy to love someone charming, endearing.  It is gratifying to love somebody commendable, admirable, venerable.  But:  How does one love the hateful, the odious?  How does one love individuals who are utterly disgusting, nauseating, sickening?  That is the question – for Christians in particular who are given but two over-all mandates to fulfill and live by, viz., Love of God and Love of Neighbor.  The first is rather easy and even inspiring to follow.  But the second is difficult and in fact distressing to obey – more specifically in conjunction with persons who are precisely unlovable.

In more concrete thoughts and language:  How does one love those who talk and talk practically without end, who curse and damn others with nonchalance, who love but themselves and hate everybody else who neither adore their persons nor bow down before their presence?  How can others love those who think of themselves as some kind of gods who know everything, who do what they want and who damn all others who do not  buy their egoistic ideas, much less accept their power-mad value system?  Such individuals are few and come far between.  Still, when they are in fact around, they cannot in fact make all others believe in them, much less worship them.  And this defiance makes them very angry, very mad.

They love themselves so much that they despise everybody else.  They consider themselves as always right while others are wrong always.  So it is that they want everybody else to bow down before them while they consider themselves as over and above everybody else.  For one disturbing and untenable reason or another, they do not even know what is proper and improper, what is virtuous or vicious.  So  it is that they are egoism incarnate and thus look at others as but their footstools.  In effect, they act as petty gods and even adore themselves very much.

It is a big pity that such individuals conveniently forget that they are but mortals like everybody else, that they can be wrong and commit mistakes like everyone else.  More.  As they are today  still around, tomorrow they may be gone.  What kills others, kills them as well.  It is just like those who say they will have the last laugh – conveniently forgetting that such could be the last time they could laugh.  So it is that the egoism of one is a lost for others.  In the same way, the egoist is in close partnership with someone who is anti-social – with both of them being a combined liability of society in general.  So it is that there are people who say that such individuals try men’s soul.  Translation:  They are not easy to respect, to relate with, much less easy to love.

To live with, to work with, to be with those with such relational liability is no fun.  Just as patience can run out of supply – so to speak – it is in the realm of probability that such ego-centered individuals could run out of the empathy and understanding of others still accepting and even admiring them one way of the other.  And these are the people who might sooner or later eventually cross them out of their patience and tolerance – if not altogether out of their sight.

But all the above facts and factors notwithstanding, the key  mandate “Love your neighbor” stands.  As it has been a standing central Command given more than two thousand years ago, the same stands firm and relevant now – and the centuries yet to come.  After all is said and done, what is the merit of loving but the lovable?