Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who Is My Neighbor?

To my son Tommy,

Who is my neighbor?  Whom should I love and respect and show compassion for?  These questions seem so poignant to today's world just as they were in the time of Jesus.  We have major events in the world of today that beg this question to be answered in the hearts of every person.

The parable of the Good Samaritan suggests that everyone is our neighbor.  Jesus specifically picked a Samaritan, one of the most unlikely and vile choices for a hero in a story told in Jewish company.  This shows racial profiling existed over 2000 years ago and beyond.  Jews would go out of their way to stay out of Samaritan territory.  If a Samaritan traveler came into Jewish territory they would be watched and eyed suspiciously or perhaps even confronted.  Yet it wasn't the respected priest or the respected Levite that stopped to help, it was this hated Samaritan who was moved to act with compassion.

Too often we settle in our groups.  We choose who we help and who helps us.  We have a "get off my lawn" attitude when outsiders walk through our neighborhoods.  Yet the Gospel today reaffirms the respect for life of everyone.

The other day a verdict of not guilty was given for the George Zimmerman - Trayvon Martin trial.  I did not follow the facts nor the case and have the luxury of not having to determine blame or guilt.   From the facts I do know about the case, there was only one man who had a gun and only one man who didn't follow what the police told him to do or not to do, so I find it difficult to reconcile the verdict.  Hopefully the court system was not fooled, but I have to think that if George Zimmerman had learned to accept that everyone is his neighbor the outcome would have been different.

I often worry about writing to you about some of the current events like this as it is so politically charged.  My hope and dream is that when you grow that events like this would be a memory of the past that may be worth forgetting.  But yet as it was 2000 years ago it is still today only the names of the groups have changed.  So many people are sounding off on both sides of this case.  I hope that people realize that spouting hate on either side of the divide will do nothing to bring us closer together as neighbors.  When will we learn as a society to break down the differences and truly accept every person, every life, as our neighbor?

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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