The great commandment of love for one's neighbor needs some updating. It means helping or being helpful, extending a helping hand. But a little thought opens up the meaning and explains why I consider it, along with tolerance and democracy, a driver of human Progress.

Clearly, the notion of neighbor has both shrunk and enlarged. We may not know who lives next to us or two doors away. But we have friends and neighbors we may never have met to whom we feel close. We are global whether it is in our politics or not.

Face time

We could use more face to face community, without question.

I address this in my #cybercommunities articles. The car has done more than anything to destroy on the ground community. But few will question that in speaking of Helpfulness we are considering a neighborhood larger than the one we live in.

Help is not charity

The first thing to see is that charity is not helping. Put hat differently. Charity is a limited and inadequate form of help. The issue is confused because there so many meanings attached to the word charity. It is a synonym for love in the Greek New Testament. It is a legal entity which has tax implications. It is something people say they don't want because they see it as patronizing. None of these things are what help is.

This 2017 review of an account of the Donner party is salient.

About half the party died and many were cannibalized. Half survived. It is a graphic reminder that we are never far from savagery. When we speak of help we should acknowledge at the start that our world remains savage at many points. We are not where we need to be.


Help is first education.

If we live by values, help should be among the top three. Education should be seen as a function of help. It provides a structure for understanding what one needs to know. It facilitates learning.

If you want to know about Romeo and Juliet, you first learn to read and then you find someone who can gratify your curiosity about the Montagues and Capulets.

You learn what a family feud is. But help is more than the gratification of curiosity. It can at any point also become enabling. It can lead to opportunities. It can make things possible.


Enablement should be seen as the preparation of a person from birth to be a contributor to progress, to achieve, to succeed. The way to do this is to be aware of your own self through a process uniquely yours. But enablement is more than that. It helps get you where you want to go. It is suggested by the words training, mentoring, and coaching. It acknowledges our universal need to earn and have respect.

Help needs a makeover

Merely to get the order right -- with helpfulness as a primary value, and education and enablement as branches of what is involved, is a start. This a huge leap toward becoming the world that exists so we can, in fact, be all we can be for real.