I remember, growing up, that our neighbors all were a regular part of our life. We had get-togethers, the kids played in one big pack, the parents drank coffee (and sometimes stronger fare), and when there was a problem, everyone showed up and pitched in. I know that has a Mayberry-vibe to it, but it was true then. We knew that if we needed help, the Dad down the road could help us. We knew that if there was a problem, we could talk to the Mom two farms down. Every adult seemed to know what was going on with the kids. If we were up to no good…we didn’t get away with it for long. Those neighbors weren’t afraid to tell you to straighten up and fly right when you were out of line. No one got upset about that…it was just part of being a neighbor.
Our world is not like that now. My family has had the immense opportunity to live all over the world, and get to know some amazing people, but I can count the people that I would call true “neighbors” on one hand. People are wrapped into their own lives, they have their own problems and plans, and they seem to almost have a fear of calling out other neighbors children for misbehavior; even when the child is doing something really wrong, or even dangerous.
So, is being neighborly a thing of the past? Are we destined to be strangers with the people who live next door, saying only pleasant hellos as we pass on the street? I really hope not, but I do wonder. I don’t think our world is better off for the fact that we no longer notice what our neighbors want, or need. I am on a mission to bring “neighborly” back into play in our little corner of the world.
If you neighbor needs help, stop and lend a hand. That could mean building a fence side by side, or baking some cookies when you hear a new family is moving in. It can really be that simple. Take a second out of your day to say just a little more than passing niceties. You may be surprised how much you like the people who live across that street. One thing is certain; your children will learn that in this world there are many people that they can love and trust. My neighbors from my childhood are still a part of my life today. If they need me, I would be there for them. Young or old, we are still a tribe held together by the similarities and differences that made us unique. We still attend each other’s important events: wedding and funerals. But, more importantly, we actually still care…very much…if our neighbor is OK. We know if we need them, the “neighbor kids” are still there. Because, that’s just what we do.