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30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
In the past weeks, I have been part of multiple discussions on finding common ground with others during this time of social division. I am not shy in pronouncing and working toward my own personal ethic of compassion and love. However, I should be more shy about discussing how well I follow through. It’s been too easy to simply brand the other side of any argument as unloving. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this accusation, as many of you.
This saying of Jesus is perhaps quoted as much by other faith groups as it is by Christians. It’s easy to stay on love and forget the self. It’s also very common to start with the first half and see your intentions became a train wreck by the time you read “as yourself “. It seems to me that many who draw the ire of others are indeed following this saying without even trying. How is it so easy to be so disparaging, hostile, and angry? Because you hate yourself. You live in regret, remorse, denial, and never ending self judgement. You can’t help acting with such malice toward others because it’s how you treat yourself moment by moment. A living hell on earth.
How shall we cope with those where we find angry disagreement? First, by seeing them as people who may be hostile because they live in self hate. They may be unloving to their neighbor just as they are to themselves. This type of seeing is the start of the compassion in this saying of Jesus. It works because it revives our humanity. You simply can’t love another until you’ve made the peace treaty with your own inner self war which then creates the foundation for acceptance. Maybe then we can strive toward social progress and to peace with our neighbors.