“Love Thy Neighbor”

After exploring many different sides to the George Washington University Hospital, the discourse found between the Hospital and Foggy Bottom residents led to a commonplace based on a single principle, specifically, the rhetoric and discourse surrounding the statement, “love thy neighbor,” which I discovered in a video of Dr. Sarani from the GW Hospital. Although this phrase is not acknowledged by the residents in typical fashion but it appears to all through how residents and the hospital relate to each other. This commonplace among the Foggy Bottom Association, run by residents, was discovered in a video of a town hall meeting for the GW Hospital and the Foggy Bottom community to discuss the addition of a helipad to the hospital. The phrase is greater than solely the Foggy Bottom community because it touches all of humanity in its value.

Dr. Sarani, of the GW Hospital, stated “Love thy neighbor” in response to the Foggy Bottom resident’s extreme opposition to the helipad instillation at the GW Hospital during a community town hall-like meeting. While the Foggy Bottom community argued that the helicopters entering the area would be too loud and too disruptive to the community, Dr. Sarani voiced his concerns for the wellbeing of the GW patients and the cost of their lives. This concept of “love thy neighbor” was reiterated by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Mike Conklin, a helicopter pilot and aviation consultant, previously for President Clinton. Lt. Col. Conklin stated, “2 minutes worth of noise to save someone’s life” is the difference between adding a helipad and negating the plan.

As previously stated, the rhetoric surrounding the phrase “love thy neighbor” extends past religion and to the basics of humanity. The theme is found in a recording of Mario Savio, political activist specializing in the free speech movement, where he discusses University of California-Berkeley’s relationship with its students. He stated, “We’re human beings! There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.” The parallel comes from the idea that people must think larger than themselves. Where the university must recognize that all students are people and not part of a production line, the residents of Foggy Bottom must think past the noise of helicopters to the lives that are at stake. The human life must be taken importance over the machines.

Of the religious connotations of the phrase, found in Mark 12:31 of the bible, the ideology does not change. Although interpretations of the bible alter to each person, the general statement of acceptance and respect still remain. From the English Standard version of the bible, the statement is ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Although this phrase comes from the bible and will always have religious connotations, the idea does not even have to be in a religious sense, but just in a way that is in regards to the respect of others. That emphasizes that in no way is one life more important than another, that a noise complaint no more important than a human life. Thus, it extends to humanity as a whole, past the divisions of religion.

In addition to the religious basis, the phrase then gets carried into politics, sharing both religious connotations and the basic statement of morals and humanity. President Obama discussed in a past speech, as annotated by the Washington Post, the importance of these relationships between all people and nations. He presented this idea by stating,

“finally, let’s remember that if there is one law that we can all be most certain of that seems to bind people of all faiths, and people who are still finding their way towards faith but have a sense of ethics and morality in them — that one law, that Golden Rule that we should treat one another as we wish to be treated. The Torah says ‘Love thy neighbor as yourself.’ In Islam, there is a Hadith that states: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’ The Holy Bible tells us to ‘put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.’ Put on love. Whatever our beliefs, whatever our traditions, we must seek to be instruments of peace, and bringing light where there is darkness, and sowing love where there is hatred” (“Remarks by Obama”).

           His examples and proposal lead to the discussion of using religion in political debates. Gary Gutting, presents this idea in his article, “Should religion Play a Role in Politics?” for the The New York Times. About using religious rhetoric in political debates, he states, “We have, for example, come to a consensus about extending full civil rights to all adult citizens, regardless of race or gender. But some argued for this conclusion from the equality of all human beings as children of God, others from self-evident truths about human nature, and still others from the overall increase in happiness that would result from equal treatment.” Gutting makes the argument that this ideology can be extended from religion and act as a basis for all people.

Thus, from my research of “Love thy neighbor,” the phrase and ideology ultimately creates a connection between all people, and in this case, all the residents in the Foggy Bottom area. Because the residents could not find a common ground with the representative’s Dr. Sarani and Lt. Col. Conklin from the hospital, the representatives created a commonplace with the universal concept of humanity and morality. The commonplace was mapped by how the ideology can be interpreted and used, and this introduction gave an outline as to the diverse map of the ideology. Prezi, as a variation of media, works to allow for the connections to be interpreted in many different ways because the map is not physically established in Foggy Bottom but a metaphysical map of ideas and interpretations.

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