Jesus and the (Other)
R. Zegarelli, Esq.
people—if not most people—believe that Jesus was wise.
also believe that Jesus is God or a prophet, each according to his
or her own personal revelation, a matter well-beyond the secular
But, as a
matter of secular wisdom, apart from religion or faith, as the
case may be, Jesus shares teachings consistent with many other wise
persons, from many cultures, throughout time. Wise teachings, expressed
as could be understood, appreciated and accepted for the respective
culture of context.
As part of
his "yoke is easy and burden light" standard, Jesus stated the greatest
commandment was simply, "to love." A rule easy enough to express.
interpretation might be that perfect love (not almost perfect)
cannot exist in the same space with judgment, and, without judgment,
there cannot be condemnation, and without judgment and condemnation
(particularly of another person's soul, a matter often believed to be
reserved to God alone), people would live happily together. Basically,
the burden of the rule gets lighter, the more we slough off all of the
qualifiers and get to its essence.
a matter of social secular administration, the problem with this rule is
not its intention, but its practicality. Love is a matter of heart,
naturally freely to be given, such as Respect, and Admiration. It
simply must come freely from inside out, never by force from outside
in. A king can compel us to kneel, but a king cannot make us to love.
A king can compel our body, but a king cannot compel our heart or mind.
What we think and feel is our ultimate exclusive human possession.
As a matter
of social secular administration, the "Law" of American society does not
deal in love. The Law deals with action
(or inaction when there is a duty to act). If a man should sit in a
room seething with a mean, vile and hateful heart, it is the
personal business of that man, until he should act.
Thomas Jefferson made this point when confirming the necessity of
secular social acceptance of various beliefs in the United States in his
Notes on Virginia, 1782 ("QUERY XVII The different religions
received into [Virginia]?"):
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as
are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my
neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither
picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
thought are free, but action is different; regulation of non-injurious
conduct, says our beloved Jefferson, is simply not a legitimate power of
government. Jefferson's free-thinking society of mature adults living
together in peace, while holding contrary beliefs with mutual respect,
deals only in the injurious action, not the mind. Therefore, using
derivatives of the Jeffersonian legal framework, the Law deals in what
we do, not what we love.
If the most
evil-intentioned man does a good act, the Law will ignore it. But, if
the best-intentioned man does a bad act, the Law will condemn it.
Indeed, the Law will scrutinize the act of someone parking a car in the
middle of a freeway to save the ducks. The Law, at least so far in this
American Experiment, deals in how people act, not how people think.
Indeed, the second Civil War in America may have freed the human
body from bondage, but it was the first Civil War in
America—the Revolution—that freed people's minds
there are certainly more than one "other greatest" wise commands by
Jesus, so perhaps I have hyperbolized the title. "Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you" is a great secular commandment,
shared with the earlier Confucius and Socrates, and many other
wise teachers from East and West.
However, this commandment is still abstract.
attorney, my personal favorite is the following; it is simple, direct,
and, best of all, it is concrete:
'Yes' mean 'Yes'..."
511; Matthew 5:37-38]. In speaking about
unnecessary [actually, Jesus said saying anything more is from the
'evil one'...], Jesus simply said to, "do what you say."
attorney, I am convinced that this is the easiest secular commandment to
make the world a better place. It is such a simple and obvious fix to
so many social problems.
I love this
commandment because of its concrete specificity, like my father simply
saying to me, "To feel better, you shall do 50 push ups and 50 sit-ups
every morning." No wiggle room.
children are young, they might say, "Well, I didn't promise..." as if
that was a get-out-of-jail-free card. Or, they might say, "Really, I
promise I will..." as if that extra statement added a binder to the
future commitment. We should watch it closely. If a child is taught
that this is an acceptable standard, it implies that "Yes" means
"Maybe," and, of course, that is a very bad seed for the character of a
child, or any human being.
with the wise teaching of Jesus, it seems we are to consider whether
children (and/or other human beings) should be corrected to understand
that each affirmation bears a silent implied, "and I promise."
For a person
of excellent character, as Jesus suggests, saying outwardly the extra
words, "I promise" is completely immaterial. A person of deepened
character simply does what he or she says. And, for this, we call the
person, "honorable," "reliable," "dependable," and "committed to task."
For a better real-world, it should be the standard by implication. At
least for me, I tell the children for whom I am responsible, "I don't
want to hear anything about promises. If you say it, do it. It's that
practicing law for almost 30 years, "Yes = Maybe" is everywhere. If you
don't see it now, be vigilant and you'll see it, too.
"I will be
there at 6:00 p.m. (I promise)." "I will follow-up. (I promise.)" "I
will deliver on May 1st (I promise)." "I will pay net 30 (I promise)."
"I will call you for lunch (I promise)." If we add the "I promise" in
our own minds every time we make a statement about future action, we can
see how or if it affects our habits.
No one is
perfect, but that is not the point. The point is that the internal
statement to ourselves reinforces our commitment to the other person and
creates weighty importance for the words we choose to say.
Like the 50
push-ups and sit-ups, it gets easier the more we do it. Training begins
with appreciation of the context, training is partially completed when
the word "try" begins to be used to place the other person on notice of
a "maybe" condition, and training is complete when every statement is
performed as stated, and the word "try" is neither used nor required
(as that "try" condition usually will not be satisfied without
accomplishing the thing itself; that is, "I will try, I promise," when
perfectly promised, is a condition of no meaning: the thing most often
could and would be done).
To let our
"yes" simply mean "yes." To have the discipline, and the internal
fortitude, simply to do what we say. To choose words carefully. This
is a fundamental rule of cooperative social interaction.
nothing to do with it. It's about action, and what we actually do unto
others. If the others do the same unto us, well, then perhaps
Providence might incidentally grace our relationships with a touch of
mutual love, admiration and respect, freely adduced from our hearts and
is Managing Shareholder of
Technology & Entrepreneurial Ventures Law Group,
PC. Gregg is nationally rated as 10/10
"superb" and has more than 25 years of experience working with
entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes, including startups, INC.
500, and publicly traded companies. He is a frequent lecturer,
speaker and faculty for a variety of educational and other
© 2015 Gregg Zegarelli, Esq.
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