Love thy neighbor

Honestly, the title of this post could stand in for the whole thing. But of course, I’ve more to elaborate on here.

I was raised as a Catholic, as was my childhood friend from nursery school, Katey Fitzpatrick. In fact, my first memory of a friend is of Katey. We had just gotten onto the swings at Brook Garden nursery school at the end of the school day when our moms came to pick us up. The timing of this struck as hilarious for some reason and I can remember us laughing and laughing together in the sunshine. 

Fast forward to high school CCD (I have just learned, this instant, from Wikipedia, that this stands for “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.” Who knew?!). This was a once-per-week evening class and Katey and I were in the same class. Did we pay close attention to the Nun’s teaching? Did we listen seriously and try our best to absorb this woman’s wisdom? Or did we sit in the back and whisper and pass notes? Well.

In any case, while I have not remained a practicing Catholic, a number of key points from that religious education have remained with me, including, most prominently:

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

We are all each others’ neighbors. Why do I bring this up today? 

It is because my heart has been so sad for those who have experienced anti-Asian aggression and bias over this last year. Our neighbors of all ages are being targeted, often with extreme violence.

Asian Americans have been subject to this violence recently because honesty, civility, and responsibility were abandoned by the prior presidential administration. The Trump administration deliberately tied the pandemic to Asia and to Asians with various offensive expressions. This was done, presumably, in order to deflect blame from the administration’s grossly inadequate response to the pandemic and to concentrate peoples’ anger elsewhere, by providing a convenient group to which to direct it. It’s such an effective political technique, right? And the Trump administration was always proficient at manipulating their constituency with simple, powerful, and profoundly false language. This consistent behavior of theirs damaged many individuals and groups (not to mention our democracy). But it is important to acknowledge the grave effects on Asian Americans, many of whom who are now feeling frightened about simply walking outside and interacting with their neighbors. 

Now is a particularly good time, therefore, for us all to remember what this life endeavor is all about – loving our neighbors and standing up for them. 

Take good care, my dear readers. 

Published by Lianne Kurina

I am an epidemiologist, the proud director of the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University, and a very keen horsewoman.

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