How would number one know he’s number one if number two did not exist? How would I know who I am if it weren’t for you? Wise people, children and those with a clean heart discover that the other one, the neighbor, is I.
There is a religious tradition in the West that proclaims, “You will love your neighbor as much as you will love yourself.” The saying embodies its expression of spirituality. We find this synthesis in the parabola of the Good Samaritan as an answer to the Pharisee who pretended to break free from all responsibility to those who were not “his people”, his relatives, or those with whom he had a relationship.
The human being is a person, a network of relationships, a place of encounter and not merely an individual, an independent entity. The individual does not disappear in the nothingness, but the person transforms itself in the plenitude of recognizing himself in the other one, the one and everything else.
Daily life always gives us the opportunity to seek that wholeness by being in solidarity with others. Many times holidays, celebrations, gatherings are offering us the means to be with others under a different relationship expressed sometimes in the giving of presents, or sharing a meal. Maybe that is why during the ‘holiday season’ there is a call for others to share more and give to funds and organizations that deal with people in need. Sometimes people give as the means to calm conscience, acknowledging that the daily hardships of others must somehow be addressed, but only ocasionally, and as a present, but not by being socially responsible for the entire systemic situation.
Solidarity is much more than an ‘act of kindness’, or a seasonal gift. Solidarity implies recognizing that the welfare of others is my own and that our responsibility is worldwide.
“Loving your neighbor as much as yourself” does not exhaust itself in a relationship of generosity, but rather it entails a relationship of reciprocity.
On the other hand, we use force to protect us from the violence generated by our selfish actions. If others do not have, they will be looking for ways to surround themselves with a minimal satisfactory way of living. The answer then is not to build more defenses, but to share more of what we have.
We should be grateful to the people who day after day offer us the opportunity to see what others lack and ways of helping them. We could go a step further by finding out why the need was created in the first place and what our responsibility is in looking for ways not only to help out but also to correct the system that created such a void.
Finding our place in society is not related to moving upward in society’s circles, in reality it is seeking truth and finding the just place to be. You can buy entrance or secure a place in some circles, but that does not secure inner peace or growth.
We came into the world empty handed and we leave just the same. Does it really matter how much one accumulates to the detriment of how much knowledge and peace one gets? Is it worth it to live in fear, looking for defenses, arms and protection instead of having a caring relationship to others?
The invitation is there to give with a happy heart, not only from your coffers, but also from your daily life.
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