Love Thy Neighbour


So London comes under attack again… and this time, thankfully, the amateurish bombers didn’t get their devices right.

I’ve been thinking over Christ’s summary of the Law – to love God, and love your neighbour… as you love yourself. And I suppose the first thing that springs to mind in the light of these attacks is that the people involved appear to be doing none of these, while purporting to be doing all three. Their apparent fevour for God, their concern for their brothers and sisters being oppressed throughout the Middle East, and their desire to become martyrs (and thus be welcomed to a feast of virgins in heaven) seem to argue for them that they are loving God, their neighbours and themselves.

But their love appears to be blind, and on closer examination is perhaps no more than love for the Self, for their idea of neighbour doesn’t seem to go beyond into the ‘other’, and therefore doesn’t reach out beyond their Selves.

Perhaps Christ’s words could be re-phrased: love the Other, and love all others. In other words, love that which is totally beyond you, essentially incomprehensible and outside of you. And love those who are not ‘you’, who are different to you, who are outside your Self.

We all needed to be loved, and need to love. If we satisfy these two needs by directing our love to our Selves, to what is within our boundaries and comforts, then we can be sure that society will disintegrate as everyone concerns themselves with themselves.

But if we take Christ’s way and risk all by directing our love away from ourselves, we are trusting that someone in turn will love us. Our love thus becomes a ‘gift’: something we see disappear, and have to simply trust will return to us by some other route.

It is only by directing concern outwards to other ‘nodes’ that a network can actually function and begin to emerge. And in the light of the thoughts in the book on the viral network of the Spirit, it is only as we are generous with our love – and let it disappear freely to those who are ‘other’ to us, that we will see the body of Christ re-incarnated. These further bomb attempts are, sadly, not the acts of brave martyrs standing up for their oppressed neighbours. But the destructive, unloving acts of violence of people who have failed to look beyond themselves… perhaps unsurprisingly, given the way our institutions have also failed to do the same.


2 responses to “Love Thy Neighbour”

  1. Alan Hirsch

    Hi Kester
    You have hit the nail on the head. The heart of the problem is a violent and degrading view of the other. In Buber’s terms, treating the other as an It, an object, and not as a subject thus dignifying and hallowing the other. And herein lies one essential difference between the Islamic and the Christian faiths. Even in their distorted and caricatured fundamentalist forms, this disparity in the respective views of the Other is evident. Nowhere has Christinaity ever produced suicide bombers–at least as far as I am aware.

  2. Indeed. My American mates on-line don’t get me when I question this eye-for-eye malarchy. I guess OT christianity is sooo inbred into their psyche they just don’t get it that Jesus faced a Terror-regime with love and ultimately sacrifice and forgiveness. One of my mates says “If not America, then who?” I guess a lot of peeps in Jesus time were asking that of him.
    All I know is Karma – if u live by the gun, u die by it. (He says glibly)
    i know we werent talkin about America, but they do seem to love hunting for terror.