I feel quite fortunate to live in a neighborhood where many of us know each other as either acquaintances or friends. My across the street neighbor Chuck is one of those type of people who rush to help out people in need and is a casual friend. Dave, the caretaker of the four-plexes to my east takes joy in clearing snow ridges that block driveways caused by snowplows clearing the streets. He has a front-end loader with a scoop to do the jobs. In turn, I try to reciprocate by doing small favors and tasks for my neighbors. To live in such a neighborhood is akin to living in a community within the greater community of a town.

I pondered neighborliness on Saturday afternoon, while finishing the last of my mowing chores. Earlier, Dave walked up to me and jokingly said that I needed a short break. A break that could only be accomplished by a friendly interchange about the status of our current home projects. The conversation evolved into a happy neighborly exchange of small-talk about our families and the weather. We did not solve any pressing world problems nor solve any coaching problems about Major League Baseball. After Dave returned to his task of sharpening a lawnmower blade, I felt happy that he had stopped over for the brief chat. It was a good morale boost.

The unspoken ethics of our small neighborhood is that if one neighbor has your back, it’s possible, but not mandatory, that you’ll have her/his back. The neighbor is aware of your presence as much as I have awareness of their presence. This happens in a mindful way that is not creepy nor intrusive. There is an overall atmosphere of caring friendliness.

Whether the belief system is indiginous, Abrahamic, Eastern, or philosophical, one of the most essential factors is to care about our neighbors as a way to care for yourself. As social creatures, our survival depends upon mutual cooperation. In tight-knit communities the universal wisdom of loving our neighbors as ourselves is as natural and normal as breathing and walking upright. While the absence of social cohesion spells doom for the neighborhood, the city, and the nation.

“A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.” 19th century English theologian, Richard Whately

I suppose I have an inherant fondness for neighborliness because of my early childhood experiences. My first ever best friend was John, the boy my age who lived in the house immediately to the north of my family’s house. We were not only best pals, but also “blood brothers” made “official” with a childish ritual. We each pricked the tips of our right index fingers. We then pressed the tips together to mix the two blood droplets together, while swearing a sacred oath of loyalty. I’m sure that contemporary health experts would strongly discourage such a ritual today. That said, the ritual sealed our friendly mutual devotion.

Being neighbors is not necessarily restricted to the people who live in nearby homes. Neighborliness extends to goodwill towards people who live in various nations and people who follow various belief systems. Modern technology has annihilated the concept of distance. The artificial barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and so forth have been torn down. The family of humanity is more of a reality than ever before in history. The remaining walls are those that we construct in our minds to proclaim dominance, entitlement, and superiority over our neighbors.

To be mindfully neighborly is to exercise basic human compassion. Doing so does not involve joining any particular belief system, religion, nor school of philosophy. It’s a matter of having each others’ backs without overt obligations. We cannot afford to battle our neighbors, even if we disagree on popular hot-button issues. When we respect one another’s personal and physical boundaries, there is no need for dispute. This attitude is at the heart of civil behavior in any successful neighborhood.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes three-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Carl Sandburg. “Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Hometown, Meanderings, philosophy, Youth and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Neighborly

  1. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘Neighborly’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

  2. I know our lives would be much lonelier and less if not for our relationship with our neighbors. We know call them friends, and yes we look out for each other, help each other when needed and have a stronger community because of these people.

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