The Bible Says Love Your Neighbor, What Does Government Say?

By Ira Seidman — part six of twelve in the series decentralize

Too often we spend too much time talking about problems and neglect the beauty, especially in politics. “The immigrants are taking our jobs, sea levels are rising, the economy is a disaster, and the other party’s corrupt!” It’s what you hear about when you turn on the TV, and when you turn it off too. We spend enough time talking about problems, what’s the root of all good? What should we be doing? The most logical answer as confirmed by thousands of years of religion and game theory, is love.

Let’s test it. What happens when we love our neighbors unconditionally? First we get rid of homelessness because no loving neighbor would ever let that happen. While legislatively and logistically it gets complicated, how simple is it when we decide to love each other that our laws suddenly follow? Never again will we let our kids go to dangerous schools and never again will we let swindlers sell us lies. But what’s more important than what will not happen anymore, is the community that will flourish — open doors, the arts, town squares, and town greens are just the start. Relationships strengthen, neighbors are closer, and the building blocks of cities and the human condition alike are alive and in use. There truly is no better antidote to evil and recipe for success than loving our neighbors.

A lot of people will say this is naivete and we cannot sit around singing kumbaya willing away all of our problems. Check out the five previous position papers in this series for all the ways we can fix the problems, now is the time for leaning in to what makes New York beautiful. Salsa in Bryant Park, food and drink from every corner of the world on every corner of our city, and curiosity that runs as deep as our skyscrapers tall. All of this is a manifestation of neighbors loving each other; whether it’s dancing, dining, or analyzing with each other, it’s what makes New York great and it’s what makes for strong communities.

It’s impossible to criticize politicians for dividing us without dividing us from them, but I’ll try to make the point as undivisively as possible. When it’s one verses 100, the best strategy is to split the 100 into two groups of 50 and let them fight with each other. Divide and conquer, it’s the oldest trick in the book and for good reason — it’s very effective. People in power could go on forever when everyone else is in-fighting — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, pro-choice and pro-life, etc… etc… But what happens if everyone in the 100 loves each other? No more fighting, no more division. People in power get nervous because now they have to act in all of our best interests, which often involves decentralizing their own control. To some extent it sounds conspiratorial, but it really is just human nature — we all want control of our own destinies, and some of us want it so badly that we’ll take control from others to get it.

It’s tough to know if we love our neighbor will that decentralize power or if we decentralize power will we start loving our neighbors? To me it doesn’t make a difference, let’s just do both immediately and unconditionally. Let’s get rid of the one verses 100 dynamic in favor of a group of 101 people who all love each other. One hundred and one people who don’t try to exert political power over each other because it’s too difficult to do against the fourth branch of government — the referendums. Let’s take the first step towards the theoretical balancing point between tyranny of the minority and tyranny of the masses by decentralizing power. Let’s take the first step towards that more perfect city by systemically fixing government so it will actually respect the will of the people. Let’s take the first step in the pursuit of a society built on happiness and love our neighbor as if our city depends on it.

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