The greatest laws

I keep coming back to the last thing I read to Red as she made the transition to the next world, which is the most concise mission statement a Christian could hope for:

The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Meanwhile, my political philosophy boils down to what has been dubbed the Zero Aggression Principle, which is not unlike the two greatest commandments: “No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever, nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.”

It occurs to me that these statements are all about how to interact with other people, person to person. Treat other people with love, and don’t initiate violence against anyone.

Person to person, I think most people have no problem treating other people with love, or at least respect. If you think through the average day, you have dozens of peaceful, nonviolent interactions with other people.

Things start going awry when we remove that personal interaction from the equation. Road rage is between two people separated by tons of steel at high speed. Online bullying is, of course, not face-to-face. Racial and ethnic violence is the opposite of treating people as individuals.

The most active agent of initiating force, of course, is government. The average state is a blunt force instrument, and politicians as a general rule treat each other and the average citizen with anything but love.

I wonder how much easier it would be to love one another, and live in peace with our neighbors, if we didn’t have politicians and other agents of the state on our shoulders whispering (or shouting) violent words of hate all the time. 

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