no REALLY, love thy neighbor?

Like so many in the US my heart is heavy with the recent shooting in Arizona. I watched Keith Olbermann’s commentary this morning. I read Diana Butler-Bass’ post last night. I was that person living under a rock (ok, sleeping under my blanket) all day yesterday—and woke up to this horrific news. This morning I longed to be amongst my Episcopal brothers and sisters in prayer and vigil. I’ve been processing why this feels so troubling to me, and I think I might know.

Many are asking who is this guy Jared Loughner? According to my faith, I am to love this man, pray for him, my neighbor. But what happens when Jared actually IS my neighbor?

I think I live next door to a Jared. No, I am not kidding.

When things like this shooting happen, it is not uncommon to hear even those who claim no faith at all say prayers for the victims. Our hearts and minds turn towards this injustice and cause us to reflect on our own safety, our own mortality. And then there are those of us who claim and try to live the teachings of Jesus, who know we are commanded to love Jared.

My neighbor is like Jared. He has opinions about authority, our government, and has quite a lot to say about religion. He is specific in his loathing and violent intentions against actual groups of people, some of whom I know. This is not just a CNN wanna-be story I am making up in my head, it is real.

But I am inquiring quite seriously friends, what are each of us doing about Jared? Do you report his activity? (Yes, I have.) Does anyone listen? (Yes, and they told me “I saw a person with very different political/govt views but didn’t hear a threat there.”) I really want to know, how can I love my neighbor? Because the truth is, he scares me. He scares both my partner and I. And its not just my neighbor, its that shifty guy outside the train platform—walking around like he’s got no place to go. Its weirdos, it’s the packs of kids who hoot hateful words at my partner and I, republicans and even corporate robots—they all frighten me. I have lurking ‘isms and I know it is my call to lay them down, and I am admitting, it’s hard.

For safety, sweetie has asked me not to post who our neighbor is. But if you think I am judging, or I am crazy, or are just plain curious—please email me. I will send you the information. You can see for yourself, help me think this thing through, and join me in reflecting on how I can take the commandment to love my neighbor seriously.

I can’t wrap up this post with a pretty point like I’ve got some Gospel answer. I don’t. I am just putting this out there, because seriously, in a very real way, I am flummoxed.


2 thoughts on “no REALLY, love thy neighbor?

  1. I find this sort of thing difficult also. Not that I live next door to a Jared, although like most of us, just going about my daily business I cross paths with some scary people.

    My “isms” include yours, plus the particular ignorant arrogance of many of the British upper classes (but I’m aware that’s a particular reverse prejudice of my own). And when I think of “sinners” from the Gospels, I have no trouble thinking well of prostitutes, but forgiving their clients is a whole other matter. And so on. I don’t know the answer.

    I recently came across The Compassionate Listening Project ( which is a great organisation that can uncover fear and heal hatred, but listening has to be mutual.

  2. PS: I just watched the Keith Olbermann video and was wildly impressed. He’s not someone I’m familiar with (he hasn’t yet made it across the transatlantic divide!), but it really made me think. We’re all guilty of the occasional violent comment and each one contributes to the torrent. I think he said something about the casualness of violent language and it’s true that it’s totally insidious.

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