“Who is my neighbor?” In the story the lawyer asks Jesus this question, “because he wished to justify himself.”
It’s a really good question. Too bad he didn’t want to know the answer.
If we are going to live in a global village, benefit from a global economy and maintain arsenals of weapons able to wreak havoc at the push of a button it’s a question we damn well better ask and ask often or we will all become that proverbial bull in the China shop.
During the course of a conversation with some good friends the other night the topic of sweatshops came up. I mentioned a video I had seen that indicated Disney spent about 2% of the profits from a garment factory in Haiti to pay the workers a wage so small that no one could actually live on it. No one is arguing that Disney shouldn’t make a profit. But 98%?!?
Imagine for a moment that a Disney executive heard that the family living in the home next to his/hers was locking their children in the basement and forcing them to work 12 hour days manufacturing garments so that the family could maintain their wealthy standard of living. Wouldn’t that person be on the phone to the phone to the child welfare authorities the next day? Why is it different if the abuse is happening a few thousand miles away?
Or take this example. There’s a violent drug kingpin living a few doors down from you. This man is a danger to everyone in the community so the FBI arrives, armed to the teeth, to remove him. What the agents don’t notice as they prepare to storm the house are the neighborhood children playing in the driveway. If the agents moved in anyway, killing the children in the process of arresting the criminal, would you consider that a successful operation? Wouldn’t you be outraged?
Where was the outrage, then, when at the beginning of the Afghan war an unmanned drone blew up the apartment in which a wanted Taliban leader was living – along with the eight innocent children playing outside the building?
The point is this – we have reached a crossroads where we in the developed world possess the technology and the financial resources to exert our will practically anywhere on the globe whenever we want to do so. And yet, our emotional, psychological and moral perception of “neighbor” – as in that flesh and blood person just like me who I ought never harm – doesn’t reach much past the actual neighborhood in which we live.
Who is my neighbor? Every single woman, man and child on the planet. Recognizing that on the deepest level of our beings is the only way to stem the destruction and marginalization of millions of human beings – and the ultimate dehumanization of ourselves.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
If you wish to read my books on the Scriptures, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com