Who Is My Neighbor

they come in the night
crosses burning
pipe bombs at the ready
hate in burning eyes

who will stop them
who will say enough
who will hear the cry of the stranger,
 the weak amongst us

will it be me
will I stand between the mob and the stranger
am I alone, who else will stand
who else will ask “who is my neighbor”

©Ruth Jewell, August 20, 2010

I realize this is different from all of my blog entries, but I have become angry and frustrated with the controversy over the proposed Muslim community center in New York and have been thinking strongly of what I have been taught about compassion, mercy and care of my neighbor.  I just want to ask who is your neighbor?

Who would have thought that a community center could cause so much trouble?  It is to be a center where people learn of each other, learn to share commonalities, and recognize the humanity of all.  If it had been proposed by anyone else it wouldn’t have been a problem, but no, a self styled fear has created a firestorm of hate against those who do, a Muslim community in New York.  Do you really believe that only Christians were inside the towers when those planes hit?  Do you really believe that Muslims didn’t feel pain when their husbands, wives, sons and daughters died that day?  Christians weren’t the only ones to die when the terrorist attacked.  There were people of all faiths in those buildings, it was a “WORLD TRADE” center and people of all faiths and no faith died because of a few.

 I find the objections of the few terrorists in this country who claim a high road while ignoring the Log that lies in their eyes offensive.  The people of this country, Christian or non-Christian, have nothing to be proud of when it comes to terrorist acts.  Places of worship bombed, Doctors offices bombed, people vilified, physically hurt, or killed all because someone thinks they, and only they, are right.  The amount of hate in this country has reached such a pitch that I’m not sure I recognize the land of my birth any longer.  I fear for my grandchildren and the world they must live in for they will not know how kind and caring the people of this country can be.  The world’s role models that stand for righteousness and peace are being replaced with those who stand for greed, hate, material success; a world that looks after the “me” and not the “other.”

I am saddened by the people who only think of what they have accumulated; only protecting what they have not realizing they could gain much more by giving to those who have so little and only want to find a way to survive.  Each and every one of us will be called to account at some point and all will discover that we will leave this world just as we entered, naked and alone, some more alone than others.    

In the Gospel of Luke a lawyer asks “who is my neighbor” and Jesus responds with a story of compassion by a hated Samaritan.  That lawyer is pushed into answering his own question with “the one who showed mercy.”    Jesus tells him to “go and do likewise,” but the Parable was apparently never taken into the life of the people who heard it then, or hear it now.    For today I’m ashamed to say not many of the people who claim to be “Good Christians” are showing much mercy.  

Who IS YOUR NEIGHBOR, who IS MY NEIGHBOR—my response is to remember the answer of the lawyer and go and do likewise; and what does that mean for me.  Well, it means stand up and speak up for what is right.  Even when intimidated or over run with hate filled speech, I must not give up; I will just keep saying what is right until at least one other person hears the message and does the same.   That may seem like a small thing, but in the end it is by our words and fearless deeds that we will be remembered.  I want to be remembered for speaking up in defense of my neighbor, whatever culture they come from, whatever faith they believe in.  They are my neighbor and it is my God given obligation and responsibility to care for them.   

So let this be my manifesto, if you offend my neighbor you offend me and while I will defend your right to say whatever you want, I will not tolerate abuse of the “the widow, the child, the ill, the weak, or the stranger amongst us.”

©Ruth Jewell, August 20, 2010

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