The Golden Rule of Loving your neighbor | Jose Vazhuthanapilly

We sometimes surround ourselves with walls and fences with a fake feeling of protection, disconnecting ourselves from the realities. It is time for us to let these clumsy walls crumple and fall. We must meet our own sense of insecurities instead of trying to cover up. The walls we erect will isolate us into a lonely being, unfit for the true and wonderful experience of love and affection.

“Mirror” story

 In the ‘Mirror’, I read a story of a man called Patrick who one day put out a crazy note to public “I am desperate to meet new friends. I’m very lonely and I am passing through the toughest period in my life. You can find me on the stairs in front of the town hall from 2pm onwards. You can identify me; I shall wear black pants and a blue shirt”

Nobody would expect anyone to turn up on reading a message like that. But they actually did. Few people went to see Patrick and offered their support. He was taken aback by this response..

“I was so overwhelmed with joy that I had to fight back tears. Many of them confided in me throughout the evening and told me that they too had felt similar heart-wrenching pain of loneliness, but were too afraid of reaching out because of the stigma”

Today Patrick is a joyful man.”I had no idea at the time, that this short message would change my life as well as that of 10,000 others.”I have lived more than half of my childhood and youth in orphanages. I had an upbringing with defeat, insecurity, poor self-esteem and a deep inner sense of loss of identity”. He didn’t have any family or friends and had been in crisis. It was that one message that brought him back to life, thanks to the kind spirit of strangers..

Patrick’s meeting went viral in Denmark. Radio stations, TV shows and newspapers all covered his story. Patrick added that he’s incredibly proud of what he achieved. He said that loneliness is a horrendous taboo in modern society. And in later years he inspired thousands of others to fight loneliness.

In many parts of the world, there are lots of people doing fantastic work to help eradicate loneliness and offer support to others who might be without family and friends.

We need to support each other

We all aspire to lead a happy life, loving and supporting each other. ”We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another.  We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the road once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might indeed become neighbors” says Henri Nouwen in his book ‘ Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

Religions are all about this

Shri Buddha says we might encounter people that abuse us, even beat us or throw us down, thrash and rob us, but what he advises us is to “Abandon such thoughts, and live in love”. The reasoning for this he gives is “In this world, Hatred never yet dispelled hatred, only love dispels that”. Shri Buddha is implying that if we fail to learn to love and to turn our minds to love, we will continue to suffer. 

Loving Kindness has become a popular and well accepted Zen meditation manthra. It is focusing on developing compassion towards oneself and for all living things. This boosts our overall well being, it enhances happiness and helps us to a deeper understanding of the world. Jain Sutra Kritanga teaches: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” In Judaism, the Torah commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself ” The Mahabharata holy writings instruct, “do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you” .Qur’an teaches, “do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near”. Christian scripture speaks ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself; there is no other commandment greater than these’. To live as true children of God means to love our neighbor and to be close to those who are lonely and in difficulty -adds Pope Francis

When all religions are rightly focused on this thought of loving one another, it is offering a marvelous and wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate each other’s existence and faiths. It helps us to fathom the underlying core principles of love we all cherish and share. “Love thy neighbor” has thus become the mankind’s “Golden Rule” for our fraternity and it is universally accepted as a sound and sane approach.

We saw that every faith that exists in the world today has this Golden Rule in some manner or form as part of their philosophy and teachings. Loving one another is a simple rule, and yet it is sometimes difficult to put into practice. All religions accept the valuable precept to love one’s neighbor and whole heartedly keep this “Golden Rule” close to their chests.

How do we translate the Golden Rule

We all have a preference to be kind to those who belong to our community. Irrespective of color, creed, political affiliation, we must love our neighbor.  Be kind to the homeless person sleeping on the pavement. There are thousands of laborers, who have come to our vicinity facing many hardships, for employment. Be sympathetic to them.

The Bible says ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails’. 

Apart from remembering those in your daily prayers see whether you can spend some time with the old people and those who are deserted. Extend your charity and serve them in their misery and plight. Try to encourage those who are feeling insecure and disheartened.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is something repeated in eight times the Bible;  just because loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to make you human. You need to love your neighbor as yourself with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

Compassion.

The story of the Good Samaritan defines who really is a good neighbor. Compassion shown to the man in need of help makes the big difference. A heart that’s moved by compassion cannot sit hands crossed when he finds a person suffering and is in need for help. We have been getting a lot of blessings from God and we need to give back what we receive, and it is in giving we are getting more from his bounty. A ceaseless flow of goodwill and peaceful intent will make you a noble person. Our valuable time, talents, money, kindness, compassion, joy, and prayers are all free-flowing things meant for continuous sharing. 

Selfish goals

Most of the time, our greed comes in the way of being good neighbors. We tend to boast, set traps, lie, cheat, beg, steal. All these are also crimes against your neighbor. We must cultivate a willingness to sacrifice personal  gain and think of those who are in real need of care .Material wealth acquired crossing the lines of morality and human dignity are not worth. 

Rewarding by a smile

At least sometimes does it become difficult for us to smile at our neighbors? We are amidst mutual hatred, bitterness, jealousy, and envy. Don’t ever be shifted away by  sad swollen faces, try to walk the first step towards them and try spreading sunshine. If you have kindness, compassion and love, this becomes possible. Let it be the hundredth time you take the initiative to smile and exchange good wishes. Never feel it is lost forever. If it fails to evoke any response in the other party for even years, doesn’t matter, but some day he would come to change. It at least brings some positivity into your life. The time would come when he would start smiling back and sharing goodwill.

Cover image credit: freepik

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Jose VazhuthanapillyBSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 22 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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