I'm reading a Swedenborg book this morning, "Regeneration." The section where I am is about who is our neighbor. It is very interesting.
He says our closest and highest neighbor is the Lord. To me, thinking of the Lord as my neighbor is a new way to look at our relationship. He is in me, along side of me and my constant companion, yes I've known that. The neighbor, the most wonderful neighbor, puts a new spin on my thinking. I will contemplate that.
He basically says my neighbors are those in my life, my church my country - at least all who are of goodwill. All of goodwill deserve my love and support, but not those of ill will, not the self-serving, the greedy, the evil behaving people. It is not good to support the darkness. Refrain from supporting those who engage in harm.
He makes sense, in that whatever we support grows stronger. At first it seems in conflict with Jesus's idea of loving our enemies and praying for those who spitefully use you. But on further thought it is not in conflict. It is loving to support the highest and best in ourselves and others. And, conversely, it is not loving to support the lowest and ugliest in ourselves and others. It is, however, to my mind, that being a neighbor of goodwill to those who are in darkness includes praying for them and also not encouraging their darkness.
Looking at all of this from Swedenborg's point, my charity and goodwill are to be focused on those of goodwill. They aren't to be focused on those of ill will, as that encourages more ill will. Here are some of his words:
Goodwill, then, is an inner motivation that makes us want to do what is good and to do this without reward. Doing this is the joy of our life...
If people have love for themselves and the world as their goal, there is no way they can be focused on goodwill. They do not even know what goodwill is; and they completely fail to grasp the fact that intending and doing good for their neighbor without looking for payment is a heaven inside them—that inherent in this impulse there is just as much happiness as heaven’s angels have: more than words can convey.
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