Centuries ago, well before the common era, a gentile once thought of converting to Judaism. With conditions, of course. That condition? That a rabbi would teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Insulted, Shammai the sage rebuked the gentile. Enter Hillel the Elder.
Not to be discouraged, the gentile went to Hillel the Elder who actually managed to complete the request. Hillel the Elder stood upon one foot and said “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this—go and study it!”
Later, a young Jewish man from Nazareth would exemplify Hillel the Elder’s sage advice and would subsequently change the course of history when—in name, at the very least—Constantine adopted Christianity for the Roman Empire.
Nobody knows if Hillel and Jesus were contemporaneous or not, but that point is largely irrelevant. The point is that they both embodied the holy writ of kindness to the stranger.
All this is to say that in a time where we are better than we ever have been—and there is statistical data to support this—it seems like we tend to forget how good we have it.
To that end, I strongly urge you to go and see Won’t you be my Neighbor?
If you haven’t heard about it, it’s the documentary about Mr. Rogers in all of his crimson cardigan and Christlike glory.
And it was a wonderful film.
Go see it.
And remember that it’s not too late to meet and be kind to your neighbor. No matter how different you are.
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