You shall not do… to your neighbor!
Posted On March 23, 2023
It is extremely important to maintain cordial relations with others, since they are the closest in times of emergency or in the face of any need. However, the actual conduct of such relationships believes in common wisdom and expectations: the fundamentals of the functioning of a human mind normally determine this conduct, if we focus on the modern era in particular. It is a more or less confirmed fact of the human mind that one begins to dislike something once he has it or possesses it, and for this reason he always looks for other people’s things. If one is living with the neighbor in apartments with exact architectural details, one may like much more the furniture arranged in the neighbor’s apartment; if one’s spouse does not dare to say how handsome or beautiful the neighbor’s spouse is, he/she can deftly divert to used clothing, and how more attractive those are than theirs; those whiffs of cooking food smell from the neighbor’s kitchen would obviously make the mouth water in open detriment of the food cooked in the kitchen itself; etc.
That it is very wrong to envy or covet your neighbor has been proven if we take it in a historical perspective. At least one of the Ten Commandments tells you:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
Therefore, ‘do not envy your neighbor’ is fully justified, because any of the impulses of the human mind towards a neighbor can lead to small fights on a daily basis or even to a long-term enmity that results in contamination. environment that is bound to impact your life adversely.
However, in the modern context and with diplomatic ramifications, things can be different and complicated. At the macro level, we can think of many nations that have neighboring disputes and tensions that last for decades or even centuries. For the convenience of this writer, the ever-strife neighbors India and Pakistan can join here.
For some stakeholders in India, there has been a substantial amount of historical evidence that seems to suggest that Pakistan envy India, be it India’s development, India’s technological progress and innovations, its vibrant democracy, or its atmosphere. diverse but peaceful. Since Partition and Independence in 1947, Pakistan has been seen as a chronic victim of its ‘envy’ factor: wars and skirmishes, border disputes and rape justify it. It is very unfortunate that Pakistan refuses to learn from the lessons imparted over the decades, and only to carry on the enmity, calling day for night if India prefers to call day for day, the country has become more harm to himself than to his neighbor. The scenario, of course, is becoming increasingly complex when it comes to international alignments and interests. Now what about India, how is it executing its neighboring duties?
India has been trying to be a perfect and tolerant neighbour, often emphasizing peace and the process of dialogue, and at other times imposing ‘punishments’ that it seeks to justify as unavoidable in view of the neighbour’s excesses. Therefore, it can never be proven that India loves Pakistan; but there are some other ‘problems’ that go beyond our neighbor behavior pattern. In recent years, India is seen to be more interested in the ‘punishment’ part than in maintaining peace talks: some argue that this is due to the growth of nationalism that has taken place in India in recent years. So to speak, Pakistan is becoming an external factor for India to prosper in its attempt to promote nationalism, jingoism and the like. For many other Indian stakeholders, primarily the pro-establishment print media and TV news channels, like-minded political parties and an intricately complicated matrix of other interests, the word ‘Pakistan’ has become an existential catchphrase: they fear extinction without it. In this particular case we, in the spirit of the story, can still vouch for the ‘thou shalt not make propaganda’ or ‘you shall not make use of’ kind of neighboring behavioral commandments.
Also at the micro level, modern sophistication has brought major obstacles to our analysis. Let’s take the example of two neighbors who live in identical flats, have all the modern conveniences and don’t suffer from any of the ‘envy-greed’ factors. Despite the digital perspective, one of the neighboring families can’t help but fall prey to ancient traditions. They believe in offerings to the souls of ancestors and in loving all animals as an integral part of God as well. So they keep offering leftovers and feeding crows, dogs, cats and the like 24 hours a day on their balconies, inside their rooms and in the common hallway outside. Obviously, this causes extreme disadvantage and irritation to the other family: the birds also sail to their balconies in search of more; the animals loitering in the corridor and going down the stairs, damaging the public thoroughfare; and every time the neighbor is away from home, those animals ambush his front door and threaten to break in any time the door has to be opened. Leaving aside the ‘envy-greed’ factors as secondary, we cannot avoid facing a new ‘curse’ factor here. Yes, the hapless family can only afford angry curses, quietly thrown at each other for diplomatic reasons so that relations do not get out of hand. So, armed as we are with historical perspective, we can safely add one more ‘thou shalt not curse’ commandment here.
So we have seen, despite having the support of history, that the good neighbor syndrome is still fraught with many other dangers, lurking, secret and unknown.