Who Is My Neighbor? Answered by a Touching Christmas Commercial

dec16-blogIn these days of nearly instant information availability, we think we know a lot about people, things, and issues. Truth be told, we may know more in a quantitative sense but less in a qualitative sense. Too much information can make us less discerning.

The Christmas commercial below is touching and enlightening at the same time. Basically, it plays off the Scrooge/Grinch theme. The commercial shows a grouchy fellow who is touched and converted by the Christmas kindness of some children. That’s the obvious message.

But I wonder if there isn’t another way to see this commercial. Perhaps it is the children (and we whom they represent) who need to add some depth to their perception of the man. He does come across as lonely and rather private, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a grouch or that he should be feared. Perhaps he’s just shy. Maybe his wife died recently. Perhaps his age has limited him.

At any rate, the man returns the kind gesture of the children, multiplied. And while this might mean that he experienced a miraculous conversion, it more likely means that he wasn’t really as grumpy and cold as they thought.

A while back, someone wrote to me saying that in my writing I come across as grouchy and generally displeased with things. The person continued on to say that hearing the sound of my voice and my laughter on the radio revealed another side of me, such that my writings no longer seem so severe.

Well praise the Lord! We can’t avoid perceptions, but we do well to consider them provisional until we have more information. To seem is not to be.

Who is your neighbor? This isn’t really a request for a list of names; it’s an invitation to ponder more deeply who our neighbor really is.

Enjoy the commercial!

4 Replies to “Who Is My Neighbor? Answered by a Touching Christmas Commercial”

  1. So, we did this. There was a house fire at the end of our street (about 1 mile away). The house was a total loss and someone died in the fire. One person, a gentleman who is 69, managed to get out of the house and was standing on the road, which is quiet during the day, at 1:30 in the morning trying to flag someone down to call for help. As my children and I were reading about this tragedy we decided to write the man letters expressing our sorrow for the loss of his home and our condolences regarding the life lost in the fire. This gentleman actually called to thank us for our kind notes. (Fortunately, I was unable to answer the call and he left a voicemail). Today, I find out that he was arrested for arson and murder. The person who perished in the fire was his wife. I feel like an idiot. I believe it was Mother Theresa who said (I am paraphrasing) that it is better to err in kindness. But I still feel like the fool. I feel as if I should look for the worst before seeing the best, but I don’t want to become too cynical. It is so frustrating. We are all in shock.

    1. I think what you did was totally appropriate, given that the man actually lived in your neighborhood, making him your neighbor. His wife was your neighbor, too. And I would hope that others in the neighborhood thought to reach out to him, as well. We cannot possibly guess all the details when we hear bad news. We have a tendency to live in our own world and remain oblivious to the suffering of others, others whom the Lord has placed right beside us. Good for you – that your instinct was to reach out to someone that you thought was suffering.

    2. One time an acquaintance at work told me he knew a woman who worked with us, who made a good salary and whose husband also made a good salary, was attending a local church for the purpose of getting donations of items for her new baby. I don’t know how he knew this (maybe she told him so), but he seemed to want me to become angry about how this person was abusing the charity of others. I told him the fault lies not with those who are giving, even if they are being duped, but with the deceiver, and I cannot imagine how God will deal with such a person.

      You acted out of kindness, compassion, and goodness. God will reward your intent. The man acted out of deceit by calling you and thanking you. He will be held to an accounting for abusing your charity.

      Never, ever feel foolish for acting out of love and charity, even if you later realize you were duped. Your goodness will be noted and rewarded by God, who sees all things.

  2. My eyes filled with tears watching this commercial.

    Father – I never hear gruffness in your tone, but concern and caring. A lot of times we project our own feelings on to ‘tone’ in another’s writings. The comments said more about the other person than it did about you.

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