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Newtown Lesson: Love Your Neighbor

What we take away from the Newtown, CT, massacre should go beyond gun control, mental health and school safety to the root of how we live as a society.

By Rabbi Erin Boxt

Shabbat shalom — well, it isn’t really. We are, all of us, in deep sorrow and mourning over the loss of so many children.

People ask me, “When is it enough?” One death — that is more than enough.

I have read many blog posts, articles and editorials comparing Friday’s tragedy with Aurora, Columbine and other mass killings. I believe, for the sake of the integrity of those who have died and for the sake of their families, it is important NOT to compare any of these. One death equals one death, regardless of who it is that dies.

Want to argue about gun control? Go for it — but you know what? Arguing over the government’s role in gun control will do nothing but lead to more arguing. What we need to do instead is sit down and really discuss so many things.

Because you know what? Gun control is not the problem. Mental health is not the problem. The root of the problem is our inability as human beings to “V’ahavtah lereiacha kamocha”: Love your neighbor as yourself.

We are ALL created equal. This is absolutely true. However, what we are not able to recognize, realize and understand is that while we are all created equal, we are not all the same. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Each of us has things we need to work on. Our realization of this will eventually lead us to developing the abilities to work with all humans equally.

That is it: We are not all the same; however, we all have the right to live in equality — justice for all!

I am not saying that these horrible events will be eradicated from our world. However, if we learn to love each other and treat each other with respect, we could, just maybe, get to a place where these catastrophes end.

Finally, let me end with a prayer for all of those who have lost loved ones in any of the tragedies that have occurred here in the United States, in the rest of the world, and/or in any act that was a result of the abuse of power of some:

Adonai, our God, please help us to understand the pain of others.
Enable us to share in the burden of all of those who are in pain.
Help us to learn to live the lives you would have us to live.
Teach us to be “God-like” in our relations with our neighbors.

Adonai, our God, lead us to peace for all people.
Enable us to join together as one people.
Help us to see beyond race, color and creed.
Teach us what we need to know — even when we are unaware.

Adonai, Elohim, El Shaddai, Jesus, Allah, Earth — help us live together.

Rabbi Erin Boxt is one of the spiritual leaders of Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb, Atlanta's home for Jewish faith, family and education. Visit Temple Kol Emeth online, and join us for Shabbat services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

30080 December 18, 2012 at 01:48 PM
We should all love our neighbor as we love ourself. But that's not what these incidents are about. It's about disturbed people getting high powered weapons and killing people. People who leave clues and reasons for their actions. And these clues give us insight into their flawed thinking. And these clues should be studied and actions taken by professionals to recognize that something is wrong before it escalates to mass murder.
Lissa M. December 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Agree! We have a lady in our neighborhood who has mental issues & her husband refuses to have her forcibly treated. She has even been banned from her children's school & has been arrested, but nothing is done. It is very scary, indeed.
Pam J December 18, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I agree. Knowing their neighbors would not have stopped most of these mass shootings. Because, quite frankly, you can't force your neighbor to do anything. You may have a crazy, vicious person living next door, but unless they do something illegal, you are helpless to do anything. If one of the neighbors in the apartment building of the shooter in Colorado had seen what he was doing in his apartment, I guess they could have reported it. But knowing thy neighbor and prying into your neighbor's house or life is another story altogether. A co-worker of mine, years ago, thought her next-door neighbor was the most wonderful man. Nice family, nice house. One day he snapped for some reason and shot his wife. Be nice to everybody, but only family members and friends can really know you, and even then it's not so clear.
mrneighborman December 29, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I couldn't agree more!
jim armstrong December 31, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Well put. Most people in their 'quest' to blame someone or something for a horrible event seem to want the simpleminded course. The problem is more complicated than most are willing, or able, to contemplate. The news media is based on that concept and they get awy with it because they know their audience. There is no simple solution, there is, however a need to calm discussion and the need to make a resolution based on multiple facets of the problem. Consensus is needed, not votes for a particular problem. The horrible sort of things that have happened do have a commonality, THEY WILL HAPPEN AGAIN,

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