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Neighbor Ethics is the process by which the neighborhood, tribe, family, nation, culture or country has different rules for how it treats its own members, and how it treats outsiders. In making such a distinction, neighbor ethics sets up an "us vs them" dualism, which is then frequently exploited by those in power. Nationalism is the most common political expression of this trope, but arguably neighborhood ethics exists at a more microcosmic level too (i.e. at the level of civil society and even personal interaction).


It's important to note that subversions of neighborhood ethics have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. The Golden Rule as formulated by Confucius and Jesus is an excellent example of this, as are similiar ideas in Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Judaism, and most other major world religions. It is equally important to note that while the subversion of Neighbor Ethics exists in nearly every religion, in practice religious organizations and individuals often do discriminate against outsiders. Neighborhood ethics is often implicit, showing up in people's behavior even if is actually denied in theory.


In the Talmud, it states that "That which is hateful to thyself, do not do to thy neighbor"

  • Partly subverted in the Bible. After Jesus says to love your neighbor there is the following passage:
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."       Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."