How NOT to Love Your Neighbor

I get accused (by well-meaning friends and family) of only talking about what I think is wrong with the world in general and the Christian community in particular. I do listen and, every now and then, step down off my soapbox for a little while. But, every time I promise myself that I’m going to start being more positive, I run across some shit that’s just wrong. And, when that happens, I find myself climbing back onto that worn perch and letting it rip. Guess what? Today is one those times (betcha didn’t see that coming, did ya?). And, lucky you, it’s not just one that’s chapping my ass; I’ve got three, count ’em three, examples of how not to love your neighbor. Let’s get to it.

  1. In Little Rock, Arkansas, people in the downtown area are unhappy with a proposed Veteran’s Administration drop-in clinic in the downtown area. The problem: people are afraid the clinic will bring more homeless into the area and upset the neighborhood’s “delicate recovery”. Oh, don’t worry, they aren’t against these veterans getting help…, as long as it’s somewhere else. Can you say NIMBY? That’s great, isn’t it? Men and women who have served and sacrificed so the good folks of downtown Little Rock can have their nice, clean neighbor aren’t welcome in that neighborhood. Looks like “Soldiers and dogs, keep off the grass” is still around.
  2. If you want to hear about some crazy conservative shit, Tennessee is always a good bet. Earlier this month, tea party activists in the Volunteer State presented their legislature with a list of items on which they wanted action. It included the rejection of “Obamacare”, an elected “chief litigator” for the state (Tennessee’s attorney general is appointed by the state Supreme Court) and “educating students the truth about America.” The first two pretty normal; Republican hatred  of “socialized medicine” and the judicial branch is pretty universal. It’s the third item that really got my attention. You’re probably thinking it has something to do with the Founding Father’s religion, but you are oh so wrong. No, they want to stricken any mention of the fact that many of the founders of this country, men who wrote documents saying “All men are created equal”, held slaves. That’s right, they want to amend history. Because, as they say, “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” So, if you don’t like something, you just sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen? It’s not the first time folks in Tennessee have to tried to suppress information. I’m sure we all remember their “Don’t say gay” bill that would’ve forbidden elementary school teachers from even mentioning the word “gay”. And, not long ago, a bill was proposed in the Tennessee legislature that “restricts access to public restrooms and public dressing rooms designated by sex to members of that particular sex” and impose monetary fines for anyone who violated it. If you feel bad about the state you’re living in, google Tennessee and read a little bit. You’ll feel better in short order.
  3. Unfortunately, the same can be said about North Carolina, my home state. Our latest escapade? In May, we’ll have the opportunity to vote on a marriage protection amendment. And, just how will this amendment protect marriage? Will it make getting divorce harder? Will it impose penalties for infidelity? Will it impose mandatory sentencing for spousal abuse? None of the above. The way it’s going to save the institution of marriage is to define it as between one man and one woman. That’s just great; we’re worried about marriage and we’re going to save it by punishing people who aren’t allowed to engage in it. That’s fucking brilliant. It also strikes me as unconstitutional. The only basis for marriage being restricted to heterosexuals is a few verses in the Bible and doesn’t the First Amendment prohibit any intrusion of religion into government and vice versa? Funny how the Constitution gets thrown out the window when it doesn’t suit some people.

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus said we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. If you’ve ever wanted to know how not to love your neighbor, these are some prime examples.