By what reasoning do I get myself to think of my neighbor as the same as myself? There are six different lines of reasoning, as expressed below. Each of them expresses a growth in our concern, where self-sufficiency is concern for nothing, certainty is concern for something, calm is concern for anything, and love is concern for everything. These may be compared with Jesus' reasonings as in his Sermon on the Mount. I have tried to relate them to DirectionsToTheGood as follows.
- Willingness to change vs. Unwillingness to change. One with the less dedicated.
- Investedness vs. Interest. One with the less caring.
- Discriminating vs. Discriminated. One with the less included.
- Inner adherence vs. Outer adherence. One with people of other faiths.
- What one will achieve vs. What one is able to do. One with the less fortunate.
- What one could be doing vs. What one is doing. One with the less important.
- One with the less fortunate: I am happy, and have gifts which may keep me happy. But I received them not for anything I did. I could have been born in awful circumstances, I sometimes imagine Cambodia, where even these gifts might be useless, and life might be very miserable and short. If I think these are useful gifts, then I have a responsibility to use them to serve those who do not have my good fortune, and to reach out to them. This is what they would want me to do.
- One with people of other faiths: I believe (in God), regardless of anything I do or will know. This is so important to me that it is an unconditional stand that I take. But this is the belief that I have been raised with. There are other people who seem to be raised with other beliefs. If they take an unconditional stand, then I respect that there should be no argument or evidence by which their belief would ever change. So I do not want their belief to change. But I believe there is one truth, one true belief. So there must be a way of translation by which every person who takes an unconditional stand has this same true belief.
- One with the less important: I should be ready to give up my life for another. I think of jumping into water to save somebody, or pushing them out of the way of a truck. That person might be a baby, who has not yet invested in life, or an old person, who is about to leave life. That person may have no talent, or none of my interests, or no care for other people. But none of these things should matter. Otherwise, I am separating myself from other people. For the very sake of our equality, I have to be ready to hand over my life for others without question, without weighing the risk for them, or the risk to me. And likewise for the smallest chores of life. I should not measure the importance of people, but value as important what we share, the opportunity to do what any good person would do.
- One with the less dedicated: I am not able to judge what is truly hard for me to do, and what is truly easy. I only know my efforts as I make them inside of me. I only know one outcome for any effort I make: I never know how much I fell short, or how much I did extra. So how can I judge another? I know the difference between agreeing and refusing to make an effort. I have no way of measuring the amount of effort, so I can only presume that any efforts we make are equal, so long as we make them. Issue by issue, I can challenge us to make an effort, but I must accept as satisfactory any effort made.
- One with the less included: My environment affects me, and may make me think badly of others. I must ever thrust myself outside of my own situation, and enter that of others, so as to counter my prejudices. Everywhere I go then becomes my neighborhood, and I may respond on behalf of my neighbors, when they are not strong enough to do so. So I am ready to respond, as I myself think appropriate, to anything on behalf of anybody. Most especially, on behalf of my enemy.
- One with the less caring: My ability to care about you makes me human. You cannot take this away from me. I have the right to care about you, and work that you may have life, regardless of what you care about, or want me to do, or not do. However, I am always at risk of abusing this outlook. When I do take up this outlook, I must suffer myself in ways that would remind that I also have other things to do. I must find something more to do with my life, to keep me from bothering you.
- One with the less fortunate. Open rather than Comfortable.
- One with people of other faiths. Take a Stand rather than Convince.
- One with the less important. Come to My Senses rather than Measure.
- One with the less dedicated. Get Along rather than Judge.
- One with the less included. Save rather than Blame.
- One with the less caring. Be Unconditional rather than Be Consistent.
The above six examples of "logic" are "data" from my own life. They are lines of thinking that allow me to bridge the chasm with other people in a meaningful way. I suppose they are familiar to you, and I would be very glad if you could share more such examples. We use them, but they are hard to remember. I thought of the first couple of examples, and then I reconstructed the rest by using a structure that I have derived from some intense passages from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5. ("Get Along rather than Judge", etc.)
My challenge is, can you think of more? If we do not, this assures "permanently tentatively" that we have comprehensive set. I will work to structure the data so that we can apply it to better comprehending the objectives of the Minciu Sodas laboratory. But I already feel, and I think we can see, that the above "existential" lines of thinking may serve as indestructible foundations for objectives we pursue.
There is one more answer, given by Jesus himself, to the question: "Who is my neighbor?" Luke 10. He told the story of a man left half dead by robbers, and how a priest and a holy man each passed him by on the other side of the road. But a Samaritan - a despised culture - walked up to him, cared for him, brought him to the inn, payed the innkeeper, and told him he would reimburse any extra expense on his return. Which was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? The one who had mercy on him. Go and do likewise.
So Mercy is, I think, something altogether more. It is interesting, however, that the "neighbor" wasn't the man half dead, but the Samaritan. So "love your neighbor as yourself", taken literally, means: love the Samaritan, the one who showed mercy. But then Jesus says "Go and do likewise", which has us do what the Samaritan did, "do unto others what you have others do unto you". But "love your neighbor as yourself", from this point of view, means love those, care for those, who reach out to you, who are neighbors to you, just as you love yourself. And we love them as ourselves by doing exactly what they do ("going and doing likewise") reaching out to others.
So the six lines of thinking are not of themselves Mercy, but I think they are ways of "going and doing likewise", ways of allowing for Mercy by bridging the chasm with others.
Our pretexts for outreach are the lines of reasoning by which we reach out to our neighbor and "love our neighbor as our self". They express our own growth as children of God who do as he does, whose concerns grows broader in the ways that his do. Interestingly, here both we and our neighbors respond together with the same way of choosing. This suggests that here we play the role of the unbounded God, and our neighbors play the role of the bounded person, but we have met exactly half way, so that we may both respond, and coincide in our response. This is why there are many people, that we might coincide in this way, reaching out and being reached. Christ is the one who reaches out.