love thy neighbor

| March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Many religions often emphasize the passage from the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” These words of Jesus Christ were a commandment meant to be carried out. Many of His words placed the focus on loving others and being kind to one another. However, there is a lot of controversy around this simple phrase. People who claim to love like this often exclude people who they don’t like or agree with it. Or they have different definitions of what love is.

Both distort this simple request.

You see, the thing about love is that it isn’t discriminatory. It isn’t selective. You cannot choose who is worthy of love. Everybody deserves to be loved and to love whomever they want. Loving your neighbor is about having love and respect for every person, whether or not you know them. Love, however, can be expressed in different ways. You can love someone by giving them the space to talk and wholeheartedly listen. You can love someone by getting them a thoughtful gift. You can love someone by making a playlist of all their favorite songs. You can also love someone by distancing yourself. Love can be expressed in different way, but regardless of who the person is, they deserve love. Basing your love on criteria or fears that you have internalized is where things gets problematic. In this statement of Jesus, people add on asterisks in order to justify their hatred for people. Loving your neighbor is not an easy feat, especially if they don’t reciprocate that love. Jesus never said love would be easy, but is something that should be done.

Defining love is a difficult subject because of how people express love. In this, people will also justify their picking-and-choosing who to love by saying they express love differently to people. Love can be expressed differently to people, but in doing so, every person should feel and see that they are being loved. Love shouldn’t be questionable; it should be transparent. People can do things that you don’t like, or may do you dirty, but the ultimate form of love is being able to forgive and still love. I think people often forget that while Jesus was dying on the cross, He asked for the forgiveness of his tormentors. He had every right to be bitter and say they weren’t worthy of love, but He understood that everyone is deserving of love and compassion. This is hard to do because there are people who do bad things in this world and may lose our respect. I think Christ accounts for these scenarios by including “as thyself.” When you love yourself, you will know when relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are toxic to you. Loving yourself will be distancing from the situation and not interacting with that individual. By loving yourself, I think that will translate as loving the other person.

I see love as a sacred thing that everyone should experience. Love isn’t something that you have to work for or be/act a certain way to obtain. Loving people is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. Love fully, and it will feel a lot better than hating.

photo credit: Go-tea 郭天 Leaving together via photopin (license)

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Category: Columns, featured, Philosophy and Religion, Thurman Thoughts

Ruth D.

About the Author ()

Ruth is a sophomore studying Health Science. She's VERY passionate about anything from the 80s. She has a new found love for dogs & spends too much time thinking about questions that don't have answers. And about ramen.

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