“When strangers start acting like neighbors… communities are reinvigorated.“
― Ralph Nader
Given the year I’ve had, I could not end my seven New Year’s Revelations without speaking (once again) about the blessing of having good neighbors and, more specifically, the importance of being a good neighbor.
“It is your business when the wall next door catches fire.”
How many of us know our neighbors?
For those who live in a large, urban environment, the transient nature of its residents make it almost impossible to really get to know who lives next door. Yet, who among you would not rush out to help if you smelled fire in an adjacent apartment or townhome?
“The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.“
― Hubert H. Humphrey
In suburbia, people tend to have mixed feelings about their neighbors. Some, they love… but others, they deplore. Fences are built, not to be crossed. And some neighborhoods are more community-minded than others. They fill the gap that government entities leave wide open ― the need for community programs whose sole purpose is to help its neighbors flourish and grow.
Fences and hedges aside, whether you’re fond of your neighbor or not, surely you would run to his aid if he collapsed on his driveway?
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
In the rural and mountain communities, neighbors are essentially a Godsend. Anything can happen (and often does). A neighbor may injure himself on his tractor or digger and, if not for the help of his neighbor, may be left there to perish in the elements. In these communities, there is a moral code that neighbors live by.
I’ve experienced this, firsthand. It has completely changed the way I feel about neighborliness. You see, I grew up in suburbia and then moved to the big city, as a young adult. Now, I live in an area that’s a cross between urban and suburban, but also have a place across the country… up in the mountains. And it’s the compassion and loyalty that my mountain neighbors have shown in the past eleven months that has filled me with a sense of incredulity, deep respect and profound gratefulness. They have shaped the way I now think about neighbors and neighborliness, and the way I act… towards my neighbors, and as a neighbor.
For this, and for so much more, I thank them.
“To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality.“
― John Locke
Photo via thepicklepatch.com.