This quote from Matthew 22:39 is explicit in its instruction. After the primary commandment to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” the second commandment states “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is quite clear yet I do not see anything close to adherence to this commandment from our current president who touts himself as a true believer and carrier of the Christian evangelical torch. Love thy neighbor obviously means certain things to certain people as it is perverted to less than noble purposes. But I know what it doesn’t mean—
- Fear thy neighbor—the scripture is clear. The constant fear-mongering tactics that are used to label people that are different than us are not consistent with a loving-thy-neighbor philosophy. When a broad brush is used to label a group of people or a race of people as rapists or murderers, that is exactly the opposite of what the scripture intends. We all know that evil occurs and we must be careful of certain people. But that doesn’t mean that we should be applying labels to a whole group of people by asking others to fear them.
- Ridicule thy neighbor—using demeaning terms to belittle others is not proper conduct and certainly beneath the dignity of the presidency. Mocking disabled individuals, calling people “low IQ, crooked or lyin’” or using ethnic slurs to describe political opponents runs counter to the instruction to love thy neighbor. How can we condone such behavior when we would not accept such behavior in our children? It is okay (and actually proper) to address aberrant behavior as wrong even for members of one’s own political party.
- Disrespect thy neighbor—folks that have come before you in public service and served honorably should be respected. Previous public servants, even from the other side of the aisle, should be honored and thanked for their service. Public servants, including military members that have returned from their tour of duty or suffered imprisonment with the enemy or died in the line of service, deserve our undying devotion. Being disrespectful is totally unacceptable.
- Lie to thy neighbor—one should never lie to anyone. Not being truthful is wrong. When one lies often, we can never trust anything they say. Truth is not a single fact. Truth is an accumulation of facts. These facts are the bricks that are laid together to build a house. If the bricks crumble because they are not solid, the house will fall. Only by following the way of the truth can integrity be demonstrated and persist going forward.
- Falsely accuse thy neighbor—one should only accuse one’s neighbor of a misdeed when there is substantial evidence to that effect. To accuse someone of a misdeed just to deflect attention away from oneself is as bad as committing the misdeed oneself. To accuse someone of not being born in the United States without any shred of evidence is xenophobic (exhibiting hatred for foreigners). Accusing a group of young men of rape in Central Park without any shred of evidence is racist.
- Be uncivil to thy neighbor—Loving your neighbor means being able to listen respectfully to one’s neighbor and being able to respond without mockery. These are the hallmarks of civil discourse and define true love for your neighbor.
Love for thy neighbor is really tough for all of us, if we are honest with ourselves. Yet total disregard for this holy instruction makes a mockery of the office of President and tears at the moral fabric of the country when it is allowed to continue and accepted as the new norm. I reject this current course.