Love Thy Neighbor?
My neighbor seems like a nice guy but suffers from muddled thinking.
The other day he came over to see me and said he was overextended financially, had maxed out all his credit cards, and wanted to know if I could lend him some money. I told him that I usually didn’t lend money to non-family members but asked how much he needed. When he said a “few thousand” I immediately told him no.
Well, then, he persisted, could I help him out by making a few of his house payments since he was about five months behind. Again I responded negatively.
“How about helping my kids who will be going to college in the fall?” he said. “They need a loan with a low rate — and they can’t promise you when or if they’ll ever pay it back.”
“No,” I said again.
“OK, if you can’t — or won’t — do that could you at least give my daughter a couple of hundred bucks a month while she’s in school?”
“A couple of hundred bucks a month?” I said. “What for?”
“Look, I may not agree with what she’s doing but she’s human like everyone else and has certain … needs. You understand?”
“You mean …”
“And the last thing she needs is to be saddled with a child when she’s just starting out in school …”
“Wait a minute,” I said, “are you telling me you want me to pay for her … contraceptives?”
“Well, you’ve got the money and seem to be doing well.”
“But I have my own financial obligations.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m saying no.”
“Man,” my neighbor protested. “That’s your answer to everything. You must belong to the party of no.”
“No,” I said. “I don’t belong to any party. But my own family would suffer if I didn’t take care of them first.”
“Well, then, if my daughter gets pregnant it’ll be your fault,” my neighbor insisted. “Why would you want to punish her with an unwanted baby?”
“Punish her?” I said. “And how is it my fault? Doesn’t your daughter bear some responsibility for her own decisions and actions?”
“Well, if she gets pregnant will you pay for the … termination?”
“Wait, wait,” I said. “You expect me to pay for an abortion, something I find personally abhorrent and that goes against everything I believe in? Look, I couldn’t stop your daughter from doing something she’s determined to do, but I’m sure as heck not going to pay for her to do it.”
“What I don’t understand,” my neighbor said, shaking his head in disbelief, “is why you are waging this war against women and why you want to take away their reproductive rights.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” I said as calmly as I could.
“And you’re being mean-spirited,” he said. “How could you be so cruel and barbaric to such a wonderful young woman?”
“I’m cruel and barbaric?” I said.
“Look, you’ve got a house bigger than mine and nicer cars, you should give more,” he continued. “And I think my daughter is entitled to whatever she can get.”
“Unbelievable,” I said. “Can’t she get a job? My wife and I both worked our way through college …”
“Hey, do you expect my daughter to flip burgers?”
“There’s nothing wrong with flipping burgers. I did it. And cleaned bathrooms. My wife and I have worked hard and saved our money so that we can afford this house and whatever else we have. We have a mortgage just like you do and are still paying on the cars. And we still give as much as we can to our church and to charity. Do you?”
“Hold on a minute,” my neighbor said defensively, “this is not about me. It’s about you and people like you and what miserly and terrible human beings you are.”
With that I told my neighbor to go to … to go away and slammed the door in his face.
His idea of “love” your neighbor apparently has a different meaning than mine.