“Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives
at peace with you.”
If we were to sum up the message of today’s readings in
five words, it would be “do no harm to others,” a theme
that suggests the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would
have them do unto you.”
Hidden in all of this somewhere is the lesson I will carry from
the passages: when we avoid harming others, we also avoid harming
ourselves. Conversely when we do good to others, we do good to ourselves.
I am thinking of a tragic friend, a generally good person who made
some terrible decisions years ago that eventually caught up with
him. His decisions devastated his wife and family. His wife left
him. His actions ultimately also cost him his daughter, his health
and his financial security. I am struck by the terrible irony of
his situation: his terribly harmful actions hurt his entire family,
certainly, but ultimately they harmed him more than anyone else.
He will spend the rest of his life living with their consequences
while the wife and children rebuild their lives and move on.
I have no idea what drove my friend to make his bad decisions –
probably a form of sickness – but the moral of his tale is
clear. When we lie, harshly criticize, cheat, take advantage of
someone, violate vows etc. we hurt others, certainly. However we
risk living with consequences that are far worse than anything our
victims could impose on us. Please, dear readers, pray for my friend.
He needs it.