|Who Is My Neighbor?
by Ivan Illich
[Listen to Audio!]
Some thirty years ago, I went into sermons from the early third century into the nineteenth century dealing with this story of the Samaritan, and I found out that most preachers, when they comment on that passage, comment on it in order to show how we ought to behave towards our neighbor, when in fact this is the opposite of what Jesus, who tells that story of the Samaritan, wanted to point out.
The Pharisees came to ask Him, “Master, Teacher, tell us who is my neighbor?” They didn’t ask him, how does one behave to one’s neighbor? They asked him, point blank, the question: Who is the guy whom you call neighbor?
And he, as a story, told them a man was going down to Jericho, fell among robbers, was beaten up and left wounded. A teacher goes by, a priest goes by, sees him and walks on. And then an outsider comes along, the traditional enemy, and turns to the wounded man, as an internal turning, and picks him up, takes him into his arms and brings him to the inn. So he answers them, “My neighbor is whom I decide, not whom I have to choose.”
There is no way of categorizing who my neighbor ought to be. […] The Master told them who your neighbor is is not determined by your birth, by your condition, by the language which you speak, by the ethnos, which means really the mode of walking which has become proper to you, but by you. You can recognize the other (hu)man who is out of bounds culturally, who is foreign linguistically, who – you can say by providence or by pure chance – is the one who lies somewhere along your road in the grass and create the supreme form of relatedness which is not given by creation but created by you.
About the Author: Ivan Ilich was a Croatian-Austrian philosopher and Roman Catholic priest. Excerpted from here. The photo is Mister Rogers and Francois Clemmons — background story here.
|Latest Community Insights
|Who Is My Neighbor?
How do you relate to the notion that your neighbor is someone you decide, not someone you have to choose? Can you share a personal story of a time you created a sacred form of relatedness with someone else? What helps you go beyond the limits of your conditioning to truly create relatedness with another?
|susan schaller wrote: Ivan Illich, an exiled Russian in Mexico, would know what he is talking about. He had to redefine “family” and “neighbor” in order to have a life in community instead of an exile of alien…
|Jo wrote: Love! …
|Jagdish P Dave wrote: Ivan Ilich offers a different way of knowing who is our neighbor and I love it. Relating to some one, a stranger, even an enemy, without preconceived and conditioned notions about who is …
|david doane wrote: ‘My neighbor is someone I decide’ means to me that my neighbor is someone I decide to relate to with true care and in a way that helps him or her have what is needed to heal and/or grow. …
|Share/Read Your Reflections
Many years ago, a couple friends got together to sit in silence for an hour, and share personal aha-moments. That birthed this newsletter, and rippled out as Awakin Circles in 80+ living rooms around the globe. To join in Santa Clara this week, RSVP online.
Some Good News
Video of the Week
Global call with James Stark!
Join us for a conference call this Saturday, with a global group of ServiceSpace friends and our insightful guest speaker. Join the Forest Call >>
Back in 1997, one person started sending this simple “meditation reminder” to a few friends. Soon after, “Wednesdays” started, ServiceSpace blossomed, and the humble experiments of service took a life of its own. If you’d like to start an Awakin gathering in your area, we’d be happy to help you get started.