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John Eggers: Do you love your neighbor?

Do you ever wonder what is the most important question you could ever ask? I have one to enter into the competition. The question is, “Do you love your neighbor?”

That’s it, isn’t it? I mean that really is the most important question because the answer determines how well you and I will get along. The answer determines how countries can get along and ultimately determines the fate of our world. You see, it is an important question.

What do I mean by neighbor? Our neighbor is every human being living today.

We hear stories daily about instances where people do not love their neighbor. There is a trial going on in Little Falls involving a man who shot two teenage intruders. He shot them several times just to make sure they were dead.

Obviously, the man didn’t love his neighbors, the teen-agers. The teen-agers certainly didn’t love the man, their neighbor. They broke into his house and took his possessions. I guess the court will determine who hated each other the worst.

Just this past week there was an incident in Detroit, when a man driving a truck stopped to help a young boy he had accidentally hit because the boy jumped out in front of his truck. While he was helping the boy, a group of men jumped him and beat him so badly that he had to be put into an induced coma. While they were beating him, they took his money and cell phone and other possessions in his truck.

Russia annexed Crimea because they thought they should have it. How much do the Russians love the Ukrainians? We will find out in the upcoming weeks how much they do love their neighbor.

Those are just some of the examples of people who do not care for their neighbors. For every example of someone not loving their neighbor, you can find millions of examples of people loving their neighbor.

You generously contribute to the food shelf. You help with the homeless. You commit your time as a caregiver. You support many non-profit organizations. You give to people who are down. You take care of the people you love. So, you do a lot to show that you love your neighbor. I hope I do too.

So what’s the point? I guess the point is we can do more and Easter is a good time to renew that commitment. How?

First, you have to love yourself. You have to value yourself. If you don’t think you are of value, pick out your best friend, someone who cares about you and ask him or her to identify why you have value. That’s what good friends and caring people are for.

Second, you have to believe in a higher power. Here’s a theory for you. I don’t think there are atheists. I think everyone believes in some higher power. As a friend of mine told me on the top of a mountain in southern Argentina as we looked over the snow capped peaks and forests, “Someone had to be responsible for all of this.” I believe there is an inner spirit in all of us telling us that people are good and we need to find the good in every one and that we need to love our neighbor.

Third, there is good in everyone and we need to look for it. Yes, even in Hitler, even in the boy who shot those defenseless children at Sandy Hook School, and even in those men who mugged the truck driver in Detroit trying to help the boy. The good is there. It has to be. Here’s another theory. People grow to be bad because they were badly treated and not taught to love their neighbor.

Fourth, it behooves all of us to renew our commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. I know “make a difference” sounds like a cliché but that’s fine. Making a difference is what we are here for. It gives our life value, worth, substance. It gives us a reason to wake up in the morning.

Easter is a good time to renew our commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. Just like someone helped you one time, it’s time to pay it forward again and again. Happy Easter.

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.