(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Comment: Empower The Empowerers”. brakha.blogspot.com.)
“Love your fellow as you.” (Va'Yikra 19:18.) The Mitsva (“command”) by God from the Tora תורה means:
• You must love “you” yourself. Be yourself. Empower yourself.
• Then, you must love your “fellow” − “as” much as “you” love yourself. Help them be themselves too. Empower them.
Share your power with those who have less power.
Do compassionate actions.
However, compassion can be evil.
If one shows compassion for individuals who are malicious, thus empowers them, they likely use the power to empower themselves only. As predators, they seize yet more power for themselves only, at the expense of even more victims. Such compassion decreases the amount of compassionate actions in the world. The compassion is cruelty.
Compassion can also be a waste. A completely selfless person can give away all their money. Then starve and die. Thats it. No more compassionate actions. The compassion is vanity.
Compassionate actions are tricky. We must love. Must do compassionate actions. But we must be wise.
We must figure out ways to make sure our compassionate actions endure.
Groups make your gift keep on giving.
The strategy is to optimize the benefits of compassionate actions by working thru groups. Kabala (Jewish spirituality) believes spiritual transformation − Tikun Olam (“Restoration of World”) − is a group effort, across time.
The minimum number for an effective group is ten individuals, the same number as the Minyan (“count”) for a synagogue service. By the way, during the Stone Age, humans evolve while wandering in a clan of roughly about twenty adults − thus about ten men for a hunting group − so genetics seems to hardwire around this number.
According to the Mitsva to “love your fellow as you”, a “fellow” means a member of your group. First you empower your group. A group is likely to use in a self-sustaining way the power you share. Your group then empowers other groups. Eventually the world. Invite lonely individuals into groups. A person can belong to several groups. Try to join groups, but not too many. Commit yourself to any group you join, contribute meaningfully, and dont spread yourself out too thin.
To benefit the groups that we belong to, is a spiritual imperative.
The mutuality of a group is less of an obligation and more of an opportunity to physically express a deeper level of spirituality than the world out there can make possible. The group is a place where the world really can be a better place. At least locally.
It is impossible to do the compassionate actions in isolation.
We are social creatures.
The goal of the Tora is to keep on increasing the quantity and quality of “compassionate actions”, Khasadim חסדים .
A compassionate action means to share power (money, food, clothing, shelter, friendship, assistance, authority, glamor, and so on) with someone who has less power.
We only give more power to individuals who are likely to use this power to do more compassionate actions for others, to in-turn use it to empower even more individuals to do even more compassionate actions for others. To the best of their ability.
Oppositely, we disempower individuals who are likely to be a predator that harms others.
Sometimes compassionate actions require self-sacrifice.
You spend money, time, prestige, for someone in your group, while personally going without. You are just as deserving as the person you are helping. But sometimes, for the sake of the big picture, strategy demands wise use of limited resources or limited opportunities. Dilemmas cause pain. We hope our choice eventually causes more compassionate actions for even more people.
Compare an archetype of self-sacrifice. Yhoshua (Historical Jesus) literally sacrifices his self. His life. He allows the Romans to crucify him. Why? Yhoshua does it to save the Yhudim (Jews), who are his fellow members of his group. According to the Book of Yhokhanan (John 11:50), the Roman governor Pontius Pilatus already threatened to destroy the Temple and genocide all of the Children of Yisrael that live in the Province of Yhuda (Judea), unless the Yhudim hand Yhoshua over to the Romans. Yhoshua knows this threat is real, and allows himself to be captured.
Importantly, the self-sacrifice by Yhoshua isnt abstract. It is a painful but pragmatic decision in a wartime situation, whose reallife consequence saves more than a million lives of his fellows. It is this reallife compassionate action that makes the world a better place. It is an extreme example of what we must all do everyday.
Help people who belong to your group.
Note, in his parable about the Shimroni (Samaritan), Yhoshua describes a scenario where even a Non-Yisreli can become a “fellow” of the Children of Yisrael, only if going out of ones way to do compassionate actions for the Children of Yisrael. (Lukas 10:30-37.) The group cooperation makes such Non-Yisrelim a kind of Gerim גרים (“immigrants”). These are effectively Non-Yisreli members of the Kin of Yisrael. Yisrael is a group doing compassionate actions among each other. When outsiders do compassionate actions for Yisrael, Yisrael reciprocates including them in the group. The Tora commands Yisrael: “The Ger thats immigrating alongside you ones. And, ‹with regard› to ‹this› one, you will love as you.” הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ (Va'Yikra 19:34.) Thus Gerim are part of the “you” of Yisrael. Yhoshua understands the term “alongside you ones”, to mean the Shimroni must be on the side of Yisrael, being part of the team of Yisrael, doing good things for Yisrael.
Compassionate actions for your group are all that matter.
Love all humans. Even love your enemies. But. Never sacrifice yourself for enemies.
This is part of being wise, to avoid squandering your power with little to show for it.
Wish your enemies well, even if you must defend yourself against them. Avoid wrath against enemies, even ask God to bless them.
When realistic, figure out ways to make peace with your enemies. If you arent in danger, you can take calculated risks. Do a “charm offensive”. Welcome the legal system to help resolve disputes. The goal is to turn your enemies into “fellows”. But dont be stupid.
Enemies frustrate your ability to do compassionate actions because sharing power with them is likely to increase their ability to do more cruelty. Helping an enemy lack compassion fails as a compassionate action. It is important to make enemies respect other humans, including yourself.
When you love your enemies, they dont yet stop being enemies.
Ultimately, God sees the wellbeing of each and every human as equally valuable.
Likewise, our true identity sees people the way that God does. The true “me” is the divine perspective. Everyone is as important as me, I am as important as everyone. This is the higher meaning of, “love your fellow as you”. Your “fellow” actually is “you”.
We trust God to make our compassionate calculations and efforts produce fruit.
When different groups form alliances with each other, they preserve their own distinctive group identity, while also forming a larger pluralistic group. By our efforts, by means of our groups, one day, all of humanity will become a spiritual family of groups. This will happen during the Mashiakh Age. Until then spend your power wisely.
Empower the empowerers.