Governmental laws and policies impact all of us–these are the structural elements of our culture. These laws, have a far greater impact on people than just our warm smile and offer to take out the garbage. All wisdom traditions teach us to be good to our neighbors. For instance, our Buddhist neighbors teach
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5:18
The US culture is often focused on individuals more than communities. Because of this, we can misunderstand who our neighbor is. We can begin to think that our neighbors are just those who live in close proximity to us. However, most wisdom traditions use the terms more globally, to refer to all human beings and all life. Our actions may impact those with greater proximity, and so there are many levels of action in loving our neighbors. Our interpersonal kindness IS important and good. However, laws and policies, what we call “structures” deserve our attention as they impact our neighbors every day, every hour.
When people from diverse wisdom traditions communicate our many shared values to our elected leaders, our voices can help promote structural change so that all in our land can have the human and civil rights we believe in. We believe these times require wisdom communities to act together for the common good and the future of life on our planet.