‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39) How can I love my neighbour as I love myself? I’m far cooler than her!
But seriously. We are quick to demonize Narcissus for having fallen in love with himself, but are we not as guilty as he is? We are all narcissists, whether we acknowledge it or not. We love ourselves every time we proclaim our individuality.
This is the era of individualism, and Junod feels that this has been “the most precious conquest of humanity”. We have rights, we have freedom, we have choices, what could ever go wrong.
Glad you asked!
Individuality is a good thing. But us human beings, as always, have a tendency to take “good” things and turn their meaning around. As we begin to practice individuality, we forget to respect other people’s individuality as well. And then we reach the ambiguous divide between my freedom and my neighbour’s. We want to cross it, because we’re free to do so, but we can’t, because it’s their freedom we’ll be limiting. The paradox of existing!
It’s not hard to understand why Marx felt strongly about Communism. Martin Luther King Jr. states that “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”, and methinks he puts it pretty well.
Being yourself is good. But perhaps this is not about you. Or me. It’s about the fact that you exist. And, most importantly, you exist within a community. We are, no matter how hard we try to deny, social beings. We survive through social interaction. I cannot develop my fullest potential by myself. So, perhaps eliminating the ‘my’ in the word would help me break free from these “narrow confines of my individualistic concerns”.
Being an individual, these days, has taken on a negative connotation. It’s something you almost have to impose on others. You show how unique you are by adopting the non-conformist position. But, sometimes, the majority is right, and we fail to see this, because we simply detest being associated with the “majority”. We want to stand out, be different, be idolized as the free thinkers that we can possibly become.
Yet all that is foolishness. Our individualism is costing the whole of humanity.
The 19-year-old self that inhabits this body hopes that, one day, we will push aside the selfishness of being, and realize that, maybe, being a self is great in itself.
Perhaps that is the real challenge in loving my neighbor as I love myself. When I come to terms that I am a self, before myself, I will, then, be able to love another self…[http://nimg.sulekha.com/others/original700/sheep-herd-2010-6-18-19-54-17.jpg]