This I Believe

Wm. Blake - East Lansing, Michigan
Entered on July 4, 2007
Age Group: 65+

I believe in the second commandment: love thy neighbor as thy self. Trite, clichéd, it has the banality of a truism. But it is truth. Every issue and conflict among people on this small globe would find a resolution if we could follow this. Of course, we cannot. Difference is built into the truth from the outside: neighbor vs. self. I must define who I am and who my neighbor is. He obviously is not me, and so he is someone different, and in that, all breaks down. Proximity, the “neigh” in neighbor, gives way to similarity or, even, exactitude of beliefs. You’re my neighbor, I would come to say, no matter where you live, if you are with me on abortion or immigration. So I am forced to give up this utopian belief for another.

You have your beliefs, and I have mind, and you stay on your side of the fence between us, and I will on mine. You do not have the right to impose yours upon me. I frankly do not care enough about you to impose mine upon you.

Good. We are now on opposite sides of the “good-neighbor” fence. But Robert Frost noted that his neighbor and he did not need a fence, because his neighbors had pine, and he had apple trees. My neighbor and I don’t need the fence if we can believe in the freedom of the individual in matters that pertain to the individual. A woman’s right to control her body is hers as long as it does not harm another human being. Thus in the first trimester, not the third or late second. You follow your god, and I’ll will mine, and let’s keep both in our hearts and out of the schools. Live life, don’t prescribe it.

I still believe in the end in the basic honesty and honorableness of my neighbor. I’m a fool.