By Shellie Miller
We’ve heard it over and over again. “Love your neighbor.” I have said it many times to my children, as my mother said it repeatedly to me. We have heard it from pastors and rabbis and men and women of every belief, but how do we envision it for ourselves? Do you take it literally, and only think about the folks you share your street with? Do you dislike the neighbor who complains about the color you’ve painted your house, but share generously with the teenager who waters your plants when you’re out of town? Do you realize that the person in line with you at the grocery store is also your “neighbor” no matter their address? Can you show that person love by giving them the .69 cents they are short for their groceries, or will you ignore their situation?
As we recently celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was reminded that he lived a life of service, which is a language of love. Over the most recent years, I see that movements throughout America are stressing service in many areas. From painting a widow’s unkempt home to buying a pool fence for an expectant couple who lost their first child to drowning, small acts of service are the way we Americans show our love for our fellow neighbors and for our freedom. The causes that need our help most right now are many; from feeding the hungry to promoting programs for mental health and overall wellness. Where can you get plugged in to be a blessing to others?
Extolled as the greatest commandment given to faithful believers, it’s been a long-held American value for us to love and look out for each other.
I remember hearing about a group of people who worked fewer hours so that fellow employees wouldn’t be laid off. It reminded me of my own neighbors, many that I hadn’t previously spent much time with, who were quick to share their friendship, food, generators and water through our three-week loss of power after hurricane Wilma 15 years ago. Some may call it sacrifice, but I can say from one who has both given and received, the operative word in each case is love.
We’re facing some real challenges in this unfamiliar time. Reaching out to others in service and support is vital to our culture. Americans, who have been very good lately at loving themselves and their personal viewpoints, must make it a priority to change their focus… and?love others first.