Living by the Golden Rule and other unpopular ideas...
Updated: Feb 2
The Golden Rule is so simple, and it crosses all lines of religions and belief systems - do unto others as you'd have done to you. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
Here I am in the Bible belt, surrounded by scripture-quoting "Christians" - yet many of these people can't seem to grasp the most basic direction given to us by Jesus. It's easy enough to be nice to your friends and embrace people who look and think like you. But if someone commits a crime and fails morally in some way - that doesn't mean it's open season on them. They still deserve compassion. It doesn't mean they should be allowed to continue what they're doing that's wrong, or escape punishment. But can we not keep our humanity?
A neighbor of ours was robbed over the weekend. Thank God, they weren't hurt - and in fact, the thieves were apprehended within 24 hours. The neighborhood app was full of other neighbors suggesting how these young people should be punished - most of them pretty harsh, including death. The young criminals obviously are lacking somewhere - a young man and woman who brazenly stole a car, robbed an elderly lady of her purse, then stole from my neighbor. They are in need of a lot of help. But they are still people. They are still somebody's daughter, somebody's son.
I recall when the Boston marathon bombing happened - which was a horrific crime, committed by two young brothers. Many of my facebook "friends" were calling out for the torture and death of the surviving brother. When I called for some kind of compassion, some said that I needed to get off my high horse - that I wasn't a good enough person to mention anything regarding morality.
Are we not past "an eye for an eye"? How will we ever move forward as human beings if we continue to thirst for vengeance? Even with "Bible thumpers" (I apologize for the phrase), so many want to quote old testament punishments and fantasize about the day that God will punish their enemies while they watch.
If you want to watch someone being punished, where is your compassion? Wouldn't you rather see someone turn their life around? Do you not have the empathy to think about how it would feel if you were the one who committed a crime? Desperate people sometimes do desperate things. And people with drug or alcohol problems - or mental disabilities or mental illness - may not even realize what they're doing. "There but for fortune go you or I"...
We know that we are responsible for our behavior. We know that people who continue to get themselves into trouble are hard to love. "I have no sympathy for people who>>>>>(fill in the blank)" - I'm guilty of saying and feeling it, too.
There's a guy who stands at an onramp to I20 with a sign that says "DON'T JUDGE, JUST HELP ME". He's been there every Sunday for months now. I've handed money to people holding signs - but I confess that as the months pass, I find myself being judgmental about him still being there. So I am guilty as anyone. I don't know his circumstances, and I don't know how to help him. But I have to remind myself that he is a fellow soul who probably feels humiliated about his life right now.
I wish I could express myself in a way that would reach the people who've closed their hearts. It's likely that anyone who's read this far feels the same way that I do. But most probably stopped reading after the first few lines. This is not an attack on other Christians or anyone in particular. It's just my observation of human behavior.
I need to remind myself and anyone who's open to listening - if you can't love your enemies (who can?), then at least have compassion for the lost soul who's made mistakes. At the very least, don't be part of the mob with the proverbial flaming torches, calling for your brand of "justice". Because if nobody fights off their first instinct to act on their anger, then one day that mob could very well be coming for you.