8.05.2013

Works of Love - *You* Shall Love Your Neighbour - part 2

Below is a continuation of both a chapter and a series.  This is merely summaries of the chapter - I have tried to keep my opinion out. See the first part of this chapter here.

Of course, Kierkegaard is not naive, and in the second part of the chapter he quickly highlights that leaving temporal distinctions untouched is never going to be a popular decision.  He calls it a double danger since one throws off his "rightful" circle and tries to be part of every circle.  This will not make anyone happy.  It is thought that one must exist for oneself (and ones circle) not for everyone.

Next Kierkegaard discusses one of the distinctions in the world, and their corrupted state: insignificance.  According to Kierkegaard, "corrupted insignificant" people (for Kierkegaard, everyone is corrupted to some degree or another) see anyone who is more powerful as an enemy.  However, since these people are more powerful, the insignificant do nothing about it and keep the status quo while complaining about their insignificance.  Using force or breaking away would only disadvantage the insignificant even more and so the they use the powerful while rejecting them out of envy.  They are guilty of covetousness.

The insignificant who (truly) loves ones neighbour however, is in a (doubly) dangerous situation.  His peers would think him a traitor to their circle (i.e. the insignificant who wish to dispose of the powerful but can not or will not out of fear) and the "favoured one" ones would (wrongly) consider him merely a brown-noser wanting to climb his way out of insignificance.  Loving ones neighbours then is both too much, and too little.

Kierkegaard then draws on the Biblical parable about the man who holds a feast and invites the poor, orphaned and widowed.  He asks the question: what of the man's friend?  He would surely be disgruntled when he found out there was a feast and he was not invited.  That is, Kierkegaard claims, until his friend finds out who was invited, then he would not have come anyways.  In fact, his friend would claim that a feast never actually took place, since it only involved the insignificant, Kierkegaard replies:

"He who feeds the poor but yet is not victorious over his own mind in such a way that he calls this feeding a feast sees in the poor and unimportant only the poor and unimportant.  He who gives a feast sees in the poor and unimportant his neighbours".


Lastly Kierkegaard drives home that these temporal distinctions (poor, insignificant, wealthy etc…) are only disguises, and should be worn very loosely, so as to through them off in order to show love to ones neighbour.  We are like paper that has been drawn on: each sheet looks different but beneath it all we are all the same, and when held up to the sun show the same watermark.