Loving our neighbor as ourselves is difficult, but we can start by respecting them.

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I have been looking for valves to escape the pressure that we have been experiencing, especially in recent days, at the door of a second round at the state and national level in the elections. I, who have been coming for months on a journey of self-knowledge through readings and simple mindfulness, I found myself marathoning the Autoconsciente podcast, by Regina Gianetti, one of the most listened to in recent times. Generallymindfulness it is about developing our full attention to the here and now. Feeling the complete cycle of the breath and developing body awareness from head to toe are the practices I do the most. This has spared me some of the weight of yesterday and the anxiety of tomorrow; it has been the most direct way to understand that all I have is now.

Well, it was listening to a special episode of Self-Conscious, Talking about wellness, that I made an almost involuntary connection between the practices discussed in the episode and social discourses that have been extensively explored lately. Let me explain: the best-known part of these speeches has often quoted the first of the Ten Commandments of the Gospel, whose central idea is that one must love God above all things. In Matthew, Jesus even joins this idea to another idea – that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, this idea is nothing new to me. Even, many years ago, since Confirmation – one of the sacraments that Catholic Christians go through – it started to put me in a dilemma. It’s just that I had come to the conclusion that I couldn’t and that I would probably hardly be able to love my neighbor – or, rather, every neighbor – as myself. Of course, there were close ones to whom I already devoted love to this degree and this group, fortunately, grew a little. But to love anyone and everyone, I knew I couldn’t, impossible! The spirits worsened when, in João, I understood that it would be useless to reaffirm love for God if I hated a brother. The logic of this passage of the Bible is that if I didn’t love someone I see – a brother – even less would I sincerely love someone I don’t see, God. Feeling like the last of the creatures – and at this point having given up on dedicating my life totally to religion – I remember well that I thought in those adolescent times: “but is respecting others not enough? I don’t think I’m that bad.”

Well, isn’t it that, at a certain point, that episode of Self-consciousness introduces me to the speech of Márcia de Luca, a student of Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda – Indian alternative medicine – for over 40 years? Márcia explains that, for us Westerners, who live at a fast pace, anxious, immersed in endless stress, the practice of Yoga, whose principle is to empty the mind, can be something unattainable, at least at first. To begin with, it indicates precisely the practice of mindfulness. After all, becoming aware of what’s going on in the here/now really does feel like a first step towards cleaning the house later on. “House” understood here as “mind”. Márcia could not and perhaps will never imagine, but she freed me from about 25 years of anguish with the unattainable love of my neighbor. It’s just that, by analogy, I’ve come to a new conclusion in life, which replaces the previous one, so charged with a sense of duty. It was the answer I needed (or that, in fact, because I wanted it so much, I ended up taking it for granted): I may not love my neighbor as myself, but a good start for this is, really, respecting him. There is no love without respect, after all! Bingo! In one episode, the equivalent of years of therapy!

Turning the reasoning to the outside world, a very close world, by the way, I venture to say that the relationship expectation X reality can be much more serious than that expressed by these dilemmas of mine or, I believe, by the dilemmas of the majority of people. It’s just that if respect is not yet love for one’s neighbor, let’s imagine how far from that love those who commit racism or who say that young people should be burned alive must be…

As for the first case, I am referring to the racist attack of singer Seu Jorge at Grêmio Náutico União, in Porto Alegre, on Sunday night (10/14). Amidst imitations of monkey sounds, the singer was called a “black bastard” and a “tramp”. And there are those who have even tried to justify the aggression under the pretext that Seu Jorge would have expressed a political-party preference, which would go against clauses in the contract he would have signed. Now, even if this has or would have occurred, nothing justifies racism. As for the second case, I refer to the speech of the non-reelected federal deputy Bibo Nunes, published on 10/09. In the video, he insinuates that UFSM students should be burned alive after protesting against funding cuts. In both cases, immeasurable disrespect. In the case of the attack on Seu Jorge, there is a historic debt to black people in the last country in the West to abolish slavery. In the case of the deputy’s speech, the stirring of the wound of a city that has suffered from pain and longing for almost ten years. As the deputy must know very well, right here, the fire at the Kiss nightclub killed 242 people, about half of them university students.

Loving your neighbor as yourself can be something distant for many, maybe for most, but respecting your neighbor already puts us in the right direction. Sad is the condition of those who are not even capable of respecting others. When, then, will you come to love him?

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