Posts Tagged ‘Hillel’

Ethics, Religion, and Father Greg Boyle, SJ

April 15, 2013

SolidarityBusiness ethics students often ask me what’s the connection between ethics and religion, and I stumble to answer, something like all religions share the Golden Rule, which is the heart of ethics. As Hillel said in the 1st century, “All else is commentary.”

And at the heart of the Golden Rule is the ability to see others as like you, not as “other.” Father Greg Boyle, SJ, must be the world champion at seeing others this way. And he does this in the unlikeliest of environments: the Latino gangland of South Los Angeles, where he ministers to/saves/employs/buries—and most of all, loves—gang members and ex-gang members, most of them covered in tattoos and recently released from incarceration. He created Homeboy Industries, which has given thousands on gang members a path to employment and responsibility.

I first heard Greg Boyle (“G-dog” to his “homies”) being interviewed by Krista Tippett on her “On Being” radio show. He’s such a compelling person that I immediately ordered and read his memoir, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. He’s (obviously) religious and I am not, but his steadfast belief that we are all the same before God is an attitude all of us, believers and not, could strive for. He calls his God “not the ‘one false move’ God but the ‘no matter what’ God.”

The book is heartwarming, funny, heartbreaking, and page-turning. Father Boyle is a man of unbelievable courage, love, compassion, and faith. And a heckuva storyteller.


Wake Forest baseball coach donates a kidney to a freshman player

February 8, 2011


If not me, who? If not now, when? That’s one of the ethical guides laid down by Hillel, the great Jewish scholar of the first century B.C.E. His other guide is his expression of the “Golden Rule.”

Hillel’s guidelines are aspirations of ethical people in all cultures, but they are aspired to more than adhered to.

But when Wake Forest baseball coach Tom Walter learned that freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan would likely die without a kidney transplant, and that Jordan’s family didn’t qualify as a compatible match, Walter got tested and found out last week that he was a match: his kidney might work for Jordan.

Yesterday at the Emory Transplant Center in Atlanta, Walter had one of his kidneys removed and donated to Jordan.

Both are recuperating nicely. Walter will be running in two months, and the docs have told Jordan that he could start to swing a bat in six to eight weeks.

Everybody thinks it was a big deal, but Walter demurs.

“I would do anything to help any one of my players and any one of my family members. Anything that I could do in my power that I could do (more…)

Don’t clamp down on would-be day laborers: they’re human, just like you and me

April 18, 2010

Screaming Frog Productions has produced a gem of a movie that helped me to think about the issue of immigrants—legal and illegal—who congregate to seek work as day laborers. It was directed by Jonathan Browning and has been shown at over 150 film festivals all around the world and won over 30 awards. Watch The Job, a three-minute movie that changed the way I think of day laborers. And made me laugh heartily.

The great first century Jewish teacher, Hillel, was asked—according to the Talmud—by a cynic to teach him the whole law (Torah) while standing on one foot. That was easy for Hillel. “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.”

Hillel was expressing the Golden Rule, which is at the center of ethical behavior in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism, in fact in every religion we know of, dating from the earliest recorded history. It’s hard enough to practice the Golden Rule when your “neighbor” is literally your neighbor, but it gets progressively harder as the “neighbor” becomes more removed from one’s experience. The Job made it easier for me.