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neighborLove this little meme. A huge part of  my soul is already there, and that is the truth on one spiritual level, when it comes to a myriad of petty issues. All is vanity really, people’s ideologies, politics, culture, appearances, past issues.

One way we can do that is to deal with people as individuals, as made in the image of God, and to perceive them as they really are beneath the surface. My dad used to say, “shrink your world down,” because the personal is so NOT political.

Deal with people’s needs as they present themselves on an individual level,  and not as if they were members of a group of distant avatars or dehumanizing labels or tribal identities. The world really tries to erase that truth and in our march towards diversity, multiculutralism, a global economy, people inadvertently become more like herds of sheep, members of a group lost somewhere in all these tribal identities.

The bigger our tribe, the more invisible people actually become.

So that’s one part of the story. The other part of the story is doggone it all, we still need some conformity here, some shared values, some cooperation. We’re going to all need to drive on the right side of the road. “I don’t think, speak, look, or act like you, and so I so choose to drive on the left,” just ain’t going to cut it. In fact, genuine love is going to make sure we take your keys away.

I love the idealism of our faith, the spiritual goals, if you will. “Aim for the stars and if you fail at least you’ll be close to the moon.” The problem arises when we become so open-minded and tolerant our brains done fell out and all pragmatism flees down the back fire escape.

Loving our neighbor does not amount to embracing, snuggling up to, or tolerating evil. Like the professional homeless who bring in drugs and prey on our young people creating the demand, and providing the supply here, need to be stopped. Like convicted sex offenders who have served their time should not be persecuted, but that does not mean we now set them up in housing among single mothers with small children.

Those are both true stories by the way, stories I’ve been forced to watch play out over and over again.

Like, I don’t “hate” the practicing addicts on my street because they don’t “think like I do” or “pray like I do,” they concern me because they steal people’s stuff, prowl cars,  and play Russian roulette in the middle of the night, because they just aren’t in their right minds.

And so little bleeding heart, extra tolerant, Christian that I am, often find myself in the awkward position of trying so desperately to proclaim, listen up, don’t dismiss me, don’t erase me, don’t tuck me behind some kind of label as if I’m just a hater or something. There is wisdom operating here and experience, and compassion for people, and it compels me to point out that societal ills are often complex, and that love is multifaceted, and if one genuinely wants to make the world a better place, one doesn’t seek out quick fixes and feel good solutions.

Because when we love that way all we really love is ourselves.

 

 

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