Sometimes it feels like there is a never-ending cycle of tragedy, disaster and divisiveness in the world. Now more than ever kindness, compassion and empathy are needed. Instead, it seems like conflict, name-calling and resentment are the norm. Is there even hope for the centuries-old saying “Love Thy Neighbor”? For people of faith, of course, it’s not just a saying or an ideal, but something we are instructed to do. And yet, many say that it’s never seemed more difficult.
So, who exactly are our “neighbors”? Is it just those in close proximity or does that mean everybody everywhere? Also, do we actually have to love them or is it okay to simply tolerate them? We decided to revisit one of our very first episodes to explore what it really means to love our neighbors and why it ultimately benefits us as well.
Sandy Kovach [00:00:02]:
What do you think of when you hear Love your neighbor? Is it something that maybe we find easier to do with some neighbors than others? And who exactly are our neighbors? We certainly want to help those in trouble, but what about those we are in disagreement with, sometimes in a major disagreement with? I'm Sandy. On behalf of Lanee and Me, welcome to Imagine Yourself podcast, where we help you imagine your next chapter of life with grace, gratitude, courage, and faith. With everything going on in the world, we thought it was a great time to jump back to one of our very first episodes in 2019. We're going to play some highlights from that, and it was originally called Do I Really Have to Love My Neighbor?
Lanée Blaise [00:00:48]:
Imagine yourself in a situation where instead of just thinking me me, I you absolutely light up inside when you hear the words love thy neighbor.
Sandy Kovach [00:01:04]:
The world does need a lot more of love thy neighbor. I'll tell you that.
Lanée Blaise [00:01:08]:
Yes, we tend to concentrate on ourselves a lot.
Sandy Kovach [00:01:13]:
That is our culture. We are consumed with our schedules and what we have to do, and we don't have time very often to go out and love thy neighbor. And if you go into the biblical love my neighbor, actually your neighbor is everybody.
Lanée Blaise [00:01:30]:
Yeah, we don't want to be fake. We know that we might not like every little thing about every person, but we do want to love our fellow humans. And like you said, it's not just our next door neighbor, even though we can definitely show them some love. Also, it's everyone. It's even your enemies. At the very least, you need to pray for others and pray for even your enemies. And it's not that you pray that they fall off a cliff or anything terrible. No, you want to pray good things for them, pray for their betterment, pray for their understanding, or that God can soften their hearts. Something more along those lines.
Sandy Kovach [00:02:14]:
So with the Love your neighbor and the me me, I mean, there is a good part of the me me in that you don't want to completely neglect yourself either. Like this whole big self care movement. Have you noticed that there's like Mark, people are marketing self care this and self care that. Besides the fact that it's marketing, it's also pretty good because you do need to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy.
Lanée Blaise [00:02:38]:
That's true. It's one of those things where many times you do have to make sure that you're strong enough yourself in order for you to even help others. You have to listen to who you are. Am I the type of person who is self absorbed and self centered? And I do realize this or am I the type of person who goes out and never says no to anybody's request, and I do everything for everyone else, and then I am totally depleted at the end of the day and I have nothing left to give. And then there's even a third one. Sandy, there's a situation where many times there are people who are really down and really feeling low and depressed and sometimes they are just stuck in themselves and their situation and they might be able to be lifted up by helping someone else other than themselves.
Sandy Kovach [00:03:29]:
Yes, I've heard the best way to cheer yourself up sometimes is to cheer someone else up. That's like a famous is it Mark Twain that said that? I don't remember.
Lanée Blaise [00:03:37]:
I don't know. But isn't it a wonderful way to climb out of some of the depression and sadness and self absorbed in the negativity love thy neighbor? It may be centuries old, but there's a lot of powerful impact behind it.
Sandy Kovach [00:03:54]:
I think the biggest thing and I touched on this a little bit, and first of all, just to go back to what you were saying about getting yourself out of depression, sometimes, obviously that's not enough. We're not talking about people who have a serious issue with depression. But if you're just feeling blue, a great way to do it is to whether you're going to help out at a charity or you're bringing your friend dinner who's got out of the hospital, or just whatever little thing that you can do. But I think the thing that gets in the way, at least for me, is that I become so absorbed in my calendar and I only have two minutes or not two minutes.
Lanée Blaise [00:04:31]:
Well, sometimes two minutes. Yeah.
Sandy Kovach [00:04:33]:
I've got two minutes to talk to you. That sounds like you. I'm can talk to you for two minutes between 12 and 1
Lanée Blaise [00:04:38]:
Sandy Kovach [00:04:39]:
But we are so tightly scheduled that we don't leave any breathing room to reach out if we see a situation or if we get a phone call or something like that. Someone needs us to help our neighbor.
Lanée Blaise [00:04:53]:
And that is something that we can take steps to do something about it. I understand that you have a job, you need to work, you have a family, you need to participate with them. And of course you do need to schedule some me time. I'm not asking you to become an overnight Mother Teresa where you have to just dedicate your life only to others. But there's got to be a way to open your life up in some situations.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:22]:
Might be time to open up right now.
Lanée Blaise [00:05:24]:
This is why do not disturb. I am so sorry, babe. I'm in the podcast. I cannot talk. I'm sorry. Bye.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:32]:
Well, there you go. That was an example of one of the interruptions in life.
Lanée Blaise [00:05:37]:
Yeah, Sandy, that was my I'm sorry.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:39]:
No worries. So you didn't even give him a chance to say what he wanted or.
Lanée Blaise [00:05:45]:
I don't even know what he wanted.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:47]:
No, it's love thy neighbor, Linnae. I didn't hear and I love you. Come out or anything.
Lanée Blaise [00:05:52]:
I love him. I just got caught up. I don't know.
Sandy Kovach [00:05:55]:
Poor husband. Yes, sorry, what were you saying?
Lanée Blaise [00:06:00]:
I don't know. I'll just start with the Mother Teresa.
Sandy Kovach [00:06:03]:
Yeah, start with that. Oh, gosh.
Lanée Blaise [00:06:05]:
So I'm not asking you to become an overnight Mother Teresa and just totally dedicate your whole life to becoming a nun and helping others full time. But I do hope to have us all and encourage us all to open our lives a bit more, to enlarge our life circle, to take time to talk to people. Talk to your neighbor for a little bit. Maybe when you are on a tight deadline, instead of pulling out of the driveway exactly when you must leave, give a few more minutes because you know your neighbor across the street wants to say a little hello.
Sandy Kovach [00:06:41]:
Or when your husband just wants to.
Lanée Blaise [00:06:43]:
Check in, yeah, say hi.
Sandy Kovach [00:06:47]:
You know I'm going to keep bringing that up, right?
Lanée Blaise [00:06:48]:
That's all right. I deserve it.
Sandy Kovach [00:06:50]:
But the neighbor thing, too. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine was telling me about a neighbor that she dreads seeing every time she pulls up, and it's always when she's heading out in a hurry and her kids are late for school or whatever. And here comes her neighbor that always wants to talk, and she's so relieved when her neighbor is on the phone because she's like, okay, she's engaged. I don't have to stop and chat. But yeah, that's something we need to take more time with and make those little pockets in our day so we could have those conversations.
Lanée Blaise [00:07:19]:
And what if you're the recipient of that one day? What if you need that? That's the whole part of thinking of this in terms of back to self again. Also, sometimes we do need that little lift and that inspiration from others, so we need to be willing to give that as well.
Sandy Kovach [00:07:38]:
And speaking of something uplifting and inspiration, I saw this story, it was viral, I don't know, maybe a few months ago, but it really stuck with me. And here's a situation where it wasn't just a few minutes, but it's this teenager. And I can't remember what part of the country he was in, but his mom ended up posting this story on Facebook, and he sees a women, an elderly woman waiting for a bus. And she's sitting in the hot sun, because wherever she's sitting, there's not any shelter. So he goes back home, he gets an umbrella, and he sits with her for, I don't know, it was like a couple of hours shielding her with the umbrella, talking to her. I'm not sure what else he had going on that day or how he made the time for it, but he did make the time for it, and his mom ended up getting a picture of it. And that's how it went viral. Which is so cool that in this day and age, I love it when we see those things posted, these good news stories, because there are those people out there and teenagers, they get a bad rap. Yes.
Lanée Blaise [00:08:38]:
I mean, I was shocked by the fact that you said this is a teenager who thought to do this so thoughtful.
Sandy Kovach [00:08:43]:
It's taking the time, it's seizing that opportunity. And maybe you don't have time to do something that big, but even just.
Lanée Blaise [00:08:49]:
A few minutes, the little things, the little things. And it benefits us too, overall. Can you imagine yourself viewing the world from God's perspective? Like the eyes of a father over his children? It allows you to give more compassion because he's looking over at all of us. And at the end of the day, we're all really just little kids running around trying to be special, wanting attention, trying to be first in line, trying to hurry up and rush to finish eating and doing things and learning or not learning how to share with others and how to keep our hands to ourselves. And sometimes we think we know everything. But when we are spending time loving one another with the flaws and all, it makes this life better. I don't know. It's not always easy to look at others through loving and patient eyes. But we really are built for community. We really are built for sharing our lives with others. And we can enlarge who we think of as others.
Sandy Kovach [00:09:52]:
That is the big thing. Obviously the literal definition of others is we know others. But when we think of being kind, we generally just think of hey, I made my husband breakfast this morning, or something like that.
Lanée Blaise [00:10:04]:
Just within our own women. Now, did you know, Sandy, that we are just like zebras?
Sandy Kovach [00:10:13]:
I wasn't aware of that, but I'm sure you'll explain why that is.
Lanée Blaise [00:10:18]:
So zebras are now my new favorite animal because I found out and you can kind of see it, but I didn't really think about it at first. Zebras are very social animals. They live and eat and play together within their fellow herd of zebra friends and family. And it serves them well. They have large groupings. They have the head of the herd, the male head of the herd always stays kind of on the outskirts looking for danger. And these large groupings, strangely enough, along with the fact that they have stripes, serve as protection from predators. Because when they're grouped together, when zebras are all together, their combined stripes make it hard for a lion or a leopard to pick out just one zebra to chase. So the fact that they're all together, there's safety in numbers and it shows that it's no good to be isolated. And doesn't that hold true for us also?
Sandy Kovach [00:11:21]:
Excellent analogy. I didn't realize that zebras provided a great analogy like that. I knew they were cool. That's good. Yeah. Community is how we're supposed to be. We're supposed to deal with each other in love. But it's hard for many, many reasons. And I think, just like we talked about, there being a lot of good things on social media. There's a lot of bad things on social media, and people like to argue from behind the keyboard, and they're doing everything but loving their neighbor.
Lanée Blaise [00:11:49]:
That is such a good point. And when is it going to stop? Can we each make the decision to make sure that at the very least, we are not the ones putting those things out and hiding behind the keyboard?
Sandy Kovach [00:12:02]:
I think that's the only thing. And talking to our kids about it as well. But, yeah, we can't control what other people do. We can control our reaction to it. I don't ever like to post anything that would get anyone riled up, but occasionally, sometimes even the most innocent thing, people can react to, it wrong. You just can't react back.
Lanée Blaise [00:12:21]:
Yeah. I have this feeling that even though kids and adults and all of us have it made faith technology and Xbox and Snapchat and self driving cars coming up in the future, but kids in the day, back in our day, may have really had all the luxuries because we had that's the epitome of love thy neighbor. I believe he invited everyone in to his world, to his neighborhood, with, please, won't you be my neighbor?
Sandy Kovach [00:13:01]:
Lanée Blaise [00:13:01]:
It just was a wonderful sense of love and community and acceptance and how do we take that and apply it and achieve it in the real world, in real life, as adults, things that.
Sandy Kovach [00:13:18]:
You learn as a child is the principles of loving your neighbor and the principles of acceptance and seeing the good in people. We hear that as kids, and we believe it, but sometimes the world takes that out of us. I found a quote, actually, from Mr. Rogers. And get you a Mr. Rogers sweater?
Lanée Blaise [00:13:37]:
Yes, please. For Christmas.
Sandy Kovach [00:13:39]:
So Mr. Rogers said, when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to look for the helpers. You'll always find people who are helping, and to this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I'm always comforted in realizing that there are so many helpers, so many caring people in this world. There are people out there helping their neighbors. And it's true. I mean, when there's a horrible disaster, of course people are devastated. But there are those stories of people, whether it's just one person going out of their way to save somebody from a car in a flood or the Red Cross coming in to save the day or the Salvation Army. There are inspiring people, and those are the people instead of looking up and okay, I'm not going to get into what celebrities on Instagram that many people will think are just it, but there are a lot of people and we spend time looking at Housewives and the famous and thinking they're great, but why can't we put people up on a pedestal? Whether know we look up to people in the military, or we look up to people who are out there on the front lines helping in a disaster.
Lanée Blaise [00:14:45]:
Right. Those are like little versions of almost human angels in this world. And helpers, like you're saying from Mr. Rogers'discussion with his mom. Those are the people that perhaps we should yearn to become. It's life changing. It's world changing. It's what's necessary. Now back again to the Bible from Ecclesiastes. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either one of them falls down, one can help the other one up. If two lie down together, they will keep warm. How can one keep warm alone? And a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. These are the things that are being poured into us as adults. And things like Mr. Rogers and even Sesame Street with all know they had a cast of quirky characters, but they all got along and they all accepted one another. These are the things that we can try to do to make life better. And I almost wonder if that should be like our motto, Sandy, because there's that song, It Takes Two to make thing go right. It takes two to make it out of sight back from the 80s. But that's a situation where if anyone asks us, why are we talking about these things? Our answer needs to be purposeful, that we're trying to add some light and brightness and love to our neighbors.
Sandy Kovach [00:16:13]:
That's right. And it's a fortunate thing that we have the ability to do this. Imagine yourself podcast, because imagining yourself loving thy neighbor in a bigger and broader sense will make the world so much of a better place. And I know that sounds very cliche, and we all want to strive for that, but let's get down a little bit to the nitty gritty. And I mean to cut it down by saying it's cliche. Love thy neighbor is not a cliche. Love thigh is in the Bible. It's what we're talking about here. But I just don't want to leave it like, okay, let's all just go out and love our neighbor now. Because, Linnae, you know that you have some practical things that are going to.
Lanée Blaise [00:16:50]:
Help us do that. Is it okay if I kick it up a notch and pretend like I'm a highly qualified intellectual? I have a situation where my daughter has gone off to college. She's a freshman there.
Sandy Kovach [00:17:02]:
You sound very intellectual. Is that what you're trying to do with your voice?
Lanée Blaise [00:17:05]:
Yes. Let me raise it up. Yes.
Sandy Kovach [00:17:07]:
Lanée Blaise [00:17:07]:
Oh, darling. I have an accent, too.
Sandy Kovach [00:17:10]:
Well, you have to have an accent when you sound like that.
Lanée Blaise [00:17:13]:
Okay, yes. But she's taking a freshman class on interreligious and interpersonal dialogue, and it explains that what we really need to do is talk more with others, with other individuals, or even in groups. And we ask questions with humility. We start off by assuming that we don't know all the answers, as opposed to many times thinking we know everything. And we also yearn to make real connections with others in the dialogue. So what if we each take it upon ourselves to reach out to someone and actively have an interconnected, humble dialogue with them, to really get to know them and really get to blossom and see the world in a different way.
Sandy Kovach [00:18:12]:
Now, when you say reach out to someone, are you talking about somebody you may not know well, or a coworker or somebody you know from school or church?
Lanée Blaise [00:18:19]:
I like any of those. Anyone who's not in your normal comfort zone.
Sandy Kovach [00:18:24]:
Lanée Blaise [00:18:25]:
Or even what about this? What if you even decide to join a group, whether it's a support group, or whether it's a Bible study or whether it's a book club, even? Something where you are placing yourself in a situation to get to know other people on a real level and actually better yourself and hopefully help them better themselves at the same time, too. Better our lives in general.
Sandy Kovach [00:18:55]:
I like where you're going with that, Lanee. Because especially, if nothing else, you can schedule joining a group, whether it's, I don't know, a book club or going to do yoga or whatever, something where you're going to get to know some people and it's on your calendar, then it makes it a lot easier.
Lanée Blaise [00:19:14]:
Yes, it does. So besides that challenge that we've just given, we'd like to offer some takeaways for today in general. Number one, go old school. Concentrate on the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And expand that to make it love others just as you want to be loved by others. Easy enough, right?
Sandy Kovach [00:19:36]:
Yeah, like that.
Lanée Blaise [00:19:37]:
Remember, we're all zebras.
Sandy Kovach [00:19:42]:
And how is that again?
Lanée Blaise [00:19:43]:
Because we're animals created to be social with one another and it benefits the entire herd, right? See, you balance that love of yourself with the true love of others. You protect others you're protected. It's all good. Everybody wins.
Sandy Kovach [00:19:56]:
I'm a zebra.
Lanée Blaise [00:19:57]:
You're a zebra. Yes. Go around the house sometimes and sing Won't you be my Neighbor. Like Mr. Rogers did. You know, from time to time when nobody's know, make sure you're by yourself, but go ahead and live that out too. Another thing, this one we didn't mention earlier, but it did just come to me. In the words of Diana Ross, her song, reach out and touch somebody's hand. Make this world a better place. If you love it, easy peasy. But overall, imagine yourself looking around and living out a lifestyle of loving your neighbor.
Sandy Kovach [00:20:38]:
Thanks so much for listening. Hope you enjoy it. As we took a look back at this 2019 episode. We do that every now and again. Next time, though, we're back with something brand new to imagine. We invite you to connect with email@example.com. We'll put that link in our social links in the Show Notes, and we're also going to include a link that well, if you're listening to the podcast near the time when it's been released, you know, the effects of Hurricane Ian. So we thought that's a great way to help our neighbors. And we'll share a link directing you how you can help with the various efforts in assisting those affected, both in the Show Notes and on our website. Until next time, here's to all of us doing a better job at loving our neighbors.