Our neighbours include all of humanity
Love of God and love of neighbour casts out fear and liberates us from the idolatry of security; moves us to understanding, compassion and justice; and can create the peace that we so dearly desire. - Dean Hirsch
ON A RECENT WEEK in my home city of Los Angeles, 20 people were murdered, most of them by handguns. In fact, Los Angeles now has the dubious distinction of becoming the murder capital of America.
In the neighbourhoods where most of the killings occurred, people have put metal bars over their windows and doors. They don't venture out at night. And when they do go out during the day, they're careful about where they go, how they talk, what they wear, and who they look in the eye.
This culture of anxiety, fear and heightened security is not unique to Los Angeles. Around the globe, people live in fear of being attacked, of explosions at discos in Bali, of suicide bombings at beach hotels in Kenya, or of hostage takers at theatres in Moscow. Israel is building a thick, concrete wall through its midst in the illusion of halting violence. The United States has created a huge new government department of Homeland Security charged with protecting the country from domestic and international terrorism.
Embassies of many Western nations have become heavily fortified compounds while citizens of developing nations, especially Muslims, are denied visas and are subject to arbitrary arrest abroad. Security forces compile long lists of potential suspects while security agencies employ ever more guards to protect private property and privileged persons.
Yet, despite this investment in security, much of the world feels increasingly fearful, powerless and insecure.
This issue of Global Future explores some of the reasons for our insecurity and our fear. It also suggests some answers.
As a Christian, I recall the words of the angel announcing the birth of Christ. "Do not be afraid," the angel said, "for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)
The good news of Jesus Christ is that through His incarnational ministry and continuing presence we can find a new relationship with God and with other people. It is a message of love reaching out to all humanity. It teaches that, in addition to loving God, we must love our neighbour as ourselves - without caveats. This emphasis on the well-being of others is shared by many faiths and by all people of good will.
The challenge in the message of loving God and loving neighbour is practicing it. And realising too that, in today's world, our neighbours include all of humanity.
It is love of God and love of neighbour that casts out fear and liberates us from the idolatry of security. It is love of God and love of neighbour that moves us to understanding, compassion and justice. It is love of God and love of neighbour that can create the peace that all of us so dearly desire.
Dean Hirsch is International President of World Vision.