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LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
I stepped outside my hotel room yesterday and saw a thin elderly woman taking small steps in a circle. She seemed to be mumbling. Our eyes connected. She said, "They left me here and I don't know where they have gone. I don't know what room I am in."
I held out my hand. She grabbed mine. I said, "Let's walk down to the office and see what we can find out." As we walked into the office, an elderly man was walking out. He began to gently scold her, "I told you to stay in the van. You were supposed to be in the van. What are you doing out here?" He thanked me and then explained that she had Alzheimer's.
Was she my responsibility? Was it my moral obligation to stop and help her? She wasn't my mother. Would I have been sinning to just get in my car and drive off?
I wouldn't want to live in a world like that, would you? I see in this passage the dream of a heavenly Father whose children are reasonable and kind and simply do unto others as we would have done unto us. You can't make enough rules to work for every situation. Just be reasonable. Just be kind. Just be decent. Just follow the golden rule.
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HOUSE FIRE AND MARSHMALLOWS
As the coals from our barbecue burned down, our hosts passed out marshmallows and long roasting forks. Just then, two fire trucks roared by, sirens blaring, lights flashing. They stopped at a house right down the block. All twelve of us raced out of the back yard, down the street, where we found the owners of the blazing house standing by helplessly. They glared at us with looks of disgust. Suddenly, we realized why...we were all still holding our roasting forks with marshmallows on them.
(From a sermon by Chris Jordan, Wake Up and Fight For Your Life! 5/22/2012)
THE "REGARD FOR OTHERS" ETHIC
John Sommerville currently teaches history at the University of Florida. He has been carrying out an exercise with his students for years. He challenges his students with the following thought experiment.
Imagine that you see a little old lady coming down the street at night and she is carrying a great big purse. It suddenly occurs to you that she very little and frail and it would be incredibly easy just to knock her over and grab the purse. But you donít. Why not?
There are only two possible answers. The answer of "shame and honour" culture is that you donít do it because it would make you despicable person unworthy of respect. It would dishonor your family or tribe. People would despise you for picking on the weak. It would not be a strong thing to do and it is critical that strength be respected. That approach, the professor says, is self regarding. You are thinking almost entirely of yourself and your tribe. You are thinking only of honour and reputation.
The second option is that you would imagine how painful it would be to be mugged and how hard it would be for the woman if she depended on the money in her purse and it was taken from her. You ask youself, if I mug her, what will happen to her and what will happen to the people who depend on her. All else being equal you want her to have a good life that is safe, so you donít do it. This is called the "regards for others" ethic which is utterly different from the "shame and honour" culture.
Professor Sommerville would ask his class, "All right, how many of you would take the purse and why not." No one would take the purse, and the reason almost totally is the regards for others ethic.
Then he would point out that they had choosen the Chri...