© 2009 Erich Shelton

People are naturally inclined to separate themselves from one another. It is human nature to relate to a specific group of people with whom you have some shared beliefs, values, ethnicity, gender, race, language, faith, etc. A proverb used since the mid-16th century says, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

However, this very type of thinking has had an incredibly negative influence on society and consequently we have wars around the world, hate crimes, and manmade borders around countries—all meant to keep people further separated. One may only pick up the newspaper or watch reports online or by television to see evidence of such separation resulting in racism, prejudice and hatred.

The key to reversing such a pattern is in one sense quite easy. It is called compassion or mercy. Through ignorance we have all been led astray from God's natural desire of the human race. God never meant for mankind to be so full of hate and division. Love and understanding must be ignited within our own hearts first before we can possibly see it extend beyond ourselves or into our neighbourhood.

However, to say that mercy or compassion is easy is really only easy to say. In reality separation is so imbred within our genes that we must continually fight to extend mercy to others outside of our circles. Too often even religion, with its very purest of intentions, has fueled the separation of mankind. If you aren't of my faith, then you are destined for hell. If you don't believe in my God there is no room in my house for you.

May we continually fight such thinking and extend the hand of love and acceptance to all that we come across within our lives. May we reach out to those we consider unreachable or beyond our preferred group of society. In the Jewish and Christian holy books we are commanded to “Love One Another.” So, let's practice this in reality:
  • Love thy Homeless neighbour.
  • Love thy Racist neighbour.
  • Love thy Christian neighbour.
  • Love thy Muslim neighbour.
  • Love thy Jewish neighbour.
  • Love thy Atheist neighbour.
  • Love thy Hindu neighbour.
  • Love thy Buddhist neighbour.
  • Love thy Pagan neighbour.
  • Love thy Black neighbour.
  • Love thy White neighbour.
  • Love thy Gay neighbour.

In all it is quite clear…Love thy neighbour. Be an instrument of mercy toward somebody today.