Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Has Neighborliness Disappeared?

Last night, the 5th, was National Night Out Against Crime. We tried to encourage the 435 households in our 55+ mobile home community to come out on their porches, or sit in a chair in front of their homes, or stroll down our streets, between 7 and 9 p.m. My friend asked me to get her scooter out, and she rode the park while I walked a little, but mostly I enjoyed being forced to sit still for an hour, something I rarely do. Mostly, we hoped that several folks on each street would come out for ten minutes or so and be visible, learn what the others look like.

We went outside at 6:45 p.m. and came in at 8 p.m. In that time, she only saw 4 people and I only saw 1, other than ourselves. People complain to us that folks in our community are not neighborly. Neighborliness requires a bit of give and take.

I was ashamed to find out that the one neighbor I saw and talked to had lost her husband last year. I wasn’t even aware of it. She said she was hurt that nobody stopped by or offered condolences. No one knew because they rarely saw her. Still, if some of us knew each other better, then at least one of her neighbors might have known and shared that with someone else, passed the word along.

After my neighbor’s wife’s passing, across the street, a few nights ago, I made sure to let others know, in case they wanted to offer help or offer words of comfort. I have the feeling that the only ones who have done so are myself and the one next to him, who gave him a ride to make arrangements.

I’m not sure how to change this attitude of wanting to be left alone until we need someone, and then there’s no one to care. There’s a fine line between caring and butting in. I suppose this is one place where prayer is a comfort and a solution.

Father, please fill my neighbors, and myself, with enough love and charity that we find ourselves caring more about our neighbors.

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