On February 5th a New York Times article by Virginia Heffernan was perhaps one of the craziest things I have read. It sounded like satire. If you told me it was written by The Onion or The Babylon Bee, I would have believed it. But no. Our world is not a sane one.
The story goes that Ms. Heffernan had a large driveway that was full of snow and her neighbors plowed her driveway without asking out of the kindness of their hearts. You can look up the picture of her driveway; it is fairly large with snow about three to four feet high. What was her response? Oh boy. Let me tell you. The title of the article is, “What can you do about the Trumpites next door?” Yep.
Without any sarcasm that I can detect she says, “How am I going to resist demands for unity in the face of this act of aggressive niceness? Of course, on some level, I realize I owe them thanks — and, man, it really looks like the guy back-dragged the driveway like a pro — but how much thanks?” She compares these people who do things for free to Hezbollah, “the Shiite Islamist political party in Lebanon,” to Louis Farrakhan, “who currently helms the Nation of Islam,” to a Nazi-sympathizing family in France, and other things that sound like satire.
I do not know the interactions she has had with these neighbors previously because she does not give any details on the matter, but I do know this: her neighbors did something nice and she couldn’t look past her judgment of these neighbors. She had dehumanized these people and simplified their identity to one thing: their political beliefs. She viewed these people not as people–but as monsters void of goodness and incapable of even a simple nicety like plowing someone’s driveway.
I see several lessons in this: 1) Don’t judge people based upon a single thing, like Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” [Jhn 7:24 ESV] Our judgment should be by the “fruit” of a “tree,” the collection of their actions and beliefs. These neighbors may be Trump-supporters, but they seem like kind people! She is the one who brought politics into the matter.
2) Love your enemy. This woman viewed her neighbors as enemies and never tried to understand them or learn about them. Her poor judgment prevented her love of these people. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” [Mat 5:44 ESV] These people aren’t even persecuting her! If you can’t love the people who plow your driveway without asking, what does that say about you?
3) Politics shouldn’t make an enemy. Who cares what your political stance is?
4) Everyone starts somewhere. This woman has some wrong ideas but maybe this is the start for her on a journey to becoming a more mature person. I have high hopes for her. These neighbors did a great thing. Our kind deeds do more than we think. They affect people in a good way sometimes. This is a great illustration of Matthew 5:16. She says something in her article that I hope she remembers and that is so true, “Loving your neighbor is evidently much easier when your neighborhood is full of people just like you.”
5) People may not like you even when you are nothing but nice. Be nice anyway. 🙂