Love Thy Neighbor on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. It’s the day of love. In our culture, Valentine’s Day is pretty tightly focused on romantic love, but we are all touched by love of some kind.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 2.48.53 PMThe Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, known as PIIN, has a campaign, called Love Thy Neighbor, built on the concept of community love. PIIN’s mission statement explains– they are an organization “committed to drawing together people of faith to act powerfully on local and regional issues of justice and fairness.”

The Love Thy Neighbor campaign calls on people of faith in Pittsburgh and throughout southwestern Pennsylvania to take an interest in the needs of their neighbors. Neighborly love is an idea that is central to every religion I know of. The Bible exhorts us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” In Islam, the prophet Muhammad stated that “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

Though we may come from different backgrounds and faiths, I think we know that “love thy neighbor” is an appeal to our better selves — an appeal to do with our lives what we should. We are called to take an active interest in our neighbor’s well-being. We are called to treat people with dignity, love, and respect.

But we don’t view our neighbor as the object of our permanent charity. We work with our neighbor to make sure everyone can provide for their families and have a safe place to live. In the words of Muhammad, if you love your neighbor, you want everything for them that you would want for yourself.

As another section of the Bible would tell us, real love is not selfish. An unselfish love means not asking, how does my love for you benefit me? You want the best for the person you love and don’t feel that this love and support takes anything away from your own life. However, unselfish love has a funny way of coming back around – when we lift each other up, we are lifted up in return.

In Pittsburgh, many people across our city are asking UPMC, Where’s the Love? PIIN is calling on the region’s largest employer, UPMC, to do right by its employees and the community it’s meant to serve.

Think back to when you were in kindergarten, when Valentine’s Day meant sending cards to your entire class rather than singling out an individual person. Now imagine taking that spirit of community and extending it to last all year. That type of love is what Pittsburgh needs to thrive.

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