The mandating of loving your neighbor

I wrote these thoughts as a “Note” at Facebook nearly two years ago. I was thinking about it again today and thought I would share it here. Let me know what you think.


When people express their distaste for socialism (gov’t health insurance, gov’t schooling, gov’t control of agriculture, etc.) they are often accused of being selfish and greedy, not caring about other people, not loving their neighbor. I wonder if it is that loving your neighbor can be legislated and mandated. It certainly was by Yahweh to the children of Israel. And Jesus repeats it, referring to it as one of the top 2 commandments. And the apostle Paul said that “all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Love your neighbor as yourself.

But what happens when human government, not trusting that most people will think it worthy of themselves to follow this direction that the Creator gave to his people once upon a time or that most people will even have it in their heart to see the needs of their neighbor and want to reach out to them and help, decides to force us to give to their charitable programs and also force us to participate as one of the charity recipients?

I don’t even have to think about my friends or neighbors much anymore or be concerned for them because there is a government program just waiting to meet their needs. So a human connection has been lost. I pay my taxes and know that little Johnny down the road can go to Head Start (where his mama probably went and her mama too. So much for the Head Start bringing them up to speed with the more advanced, eh?)

The heart is taken out of the process. Someone far away is going to decide what the needs (educational, health-wise, etc.) of me and my children and my neighbors are. People will become dull (as if that hasn’t long ago already happened) because they don’t have to care or think about how to care and what to do for themselves or their neighbors.

While living in NYC I worked with a wonderful lady named Zita who was in her 70s and had grown up in Manhattan. You may picture NYC as a brutal place where no one acknowledges their neighbor and everybody goes in after work and school and locks their doors, but Zita told me that when she was a child living in this big city, all their neighbors would watch out for each other and their children. As she would walk to school, other mamas were looking out their windows and making sure she was safe and not dawdling on her way. No president, senator, governor, mayor or city council told them that they must do this. No neighborhood watch people were assigned by the city council. These people cared about their neighbors. And they knew that their neighbors in return cared about them.

Dr. Ron Paul often talks of his experience as a physician and how he witnessed plenty of indigent people being accepted and cared for in hospitals. He speaks of Shriners Hospitals and other non-government charitable groups started because people can and will care and love their neighbor ALL ON THEIR OWN. He himself, as an OB/GYN has often accepted little or no payment from patients that didn’t have the means. What have we done to the practice of medicine, to the many men and women that might have entered that field because they cared, that we now don’t trust them? I know I don’t. I wonder what pharmaceutical company is paying them to prescribe some medication for me. What insurance company is demanding that they prescribe some treatment that they otherwise wouldn’t think right or necessary for me. And now we’re going to have people in far off DC decide these things for us.

Leave us alone. We are quite capable of loving our neighbor on our own. And sometimes that love (isn’t it called tough love?) requires that we don’t reach out and give but, seeing that the individual can provide for themselves, give them the motivation to go out and work for it themselves and feel a whole lot better in the end. But we can make these decisions because we can and have taken the time to get to know our neighbor.

When Jesus told the parable of “The Good Samaritan” to illustrate loving your neighbor, I think he was saying something like, ‘The command is basic and simple, you just need to look around and figure out how to live it.’  And he was saying YOU go love your neighbor. Personal responsibility. Not a mandate for government regulation and oversight. Interesting that the people who passed by the man in need were paid to love their neighbor (being professional religious leaders), but it was one human individual seeing another human in need that reached down and picked the man up, delivered him to a care-giver and gave his own money, with a promise of more, to take care of the man who was a stranger to him.

This entry was posted in Bible, Character and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The mandating of loving your neighbor

  1. This is second message I’ve received today about loving your neighbor….and it’s not noon yet. Lots to think about here, Kay.

    Okay, another NYC connection – NY’ers really do look out for their neighbors. My daughter had one single tantrum in her toddler years – the habit was nipped in the bud fast by an elderly gentleman who was our neighbor. Maybe I’ll blog about that sometime. In the meantime, thank you for that memory of him (he moved to Florida and we lost touch), and thank you for nudging me into thinking about my neighbors and contemplating what Jesus commands of us.

  2. Megan says:

    Amen! Ben and I just watched “Waiting for Superman” last night, and were amazed by the dedication of individuals like Geoffrey Canada who have had to fight like crazy to get the system off their backs as they do real Good Samaritan work educating kids. The War Against Poverty has turned out to be not only a war against the poor, but a war against American generosity and compassion.

  3. Kay Pelham says:

    Thank you for confirming that people are motivated to help their neighbor — even in the City. Actually, I can see it happening more in the city because neighbors are VERY close to each other. You can’t help but see the needs around you. I know I certainly reached out more when I lived in the City just because they were all around and in my face there.

  4. Kay Pelham says:

    Thank you, Megan. That was a point I was trying to make — that the programs have actually not worked and have gotten in the way of genuine human compassion for the needy around us. And how frustrating to actually be trying to do some good and be thwarted by the powers that be. We ran into this often in a church we belonged to once upon a time. The authorities wanted to sanction and be in charge (and also take credit for the idea) of every good deed that we tried to do.

    Wish I could get a hold of all those little ones going to Head Start — or get hold of their mamas and daddies who probably went through it themselves. It hasn’t helped these people. They just continue in the program generation after generation. Why should they change? It’s free childcare. We had people telling us to sign James up for it. Hey, why not, it’s free, they would tell us. Oh, and they learn their letters and colors and stuff. It’s free! It’s great!

    So this is helping people to overcome how?

Comments are closed.