“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” Raise your hand if you share this sentiment with Mister Rogers. Do you feel this way about your neighbors?
How many of us even know our neighbors? It’s easy to stay isolated in your home due to busyness, fear and concerns about safety. When you do get to know the neighbors, some can be quite challenging to love. Yet, one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbors. So, what can you do to be more neighborly?
- Be friendly. Smile, engage your neighbors when you are outside and get to know them. Introduce yourself if you have never met them and find something of interest to talk about. You may have to initiate. Not all of your neighbors may return your friendliness, but give it a try. You might find someone who could be a friend, maybe even supportive and helpful.
- Be a good neighbor by checking your noise level. Make sure you aren’t disturbing those around you with loud parties, music or dogs barking. As a rule, loud music and conversations should wind down or be taken indoors after 9:00 pm and power tools and lawn mowers can wait until 8:00 am on weekends to start up. Basically, be considerate of those around you.
- If you have a pet, control your pet. Don’t allow dogs to bark incessantly, wander into other peoples’ yards and do their business on other peoples’ property. When we moved into our house, there was a note in the mailbox telling us to clean up after our pet if we had one. Obviously, the previous owners had caused problems in this area.
- If you live in a neighborhood with common spaces, respect them. Don’t trash hallways or stairs. People can become quite upset when common spaces become trash cans and aren’t kept up.
- Think about parking and respect the spaces assigned. One of our former neighbors used to park his car in front of our house every day and it bothered me. He had plenty of room in front of his house. Be considerate of your neighbor’s property.
- If you have a problem, talk it out in a calm and problem-solving way. If there is an issue, go your neighbor and discuss the problem. I realize this is not easy. It is more difficult when you bring up a problem in a negative way. If you are angry and blaming, your neighbor will become defensive. And if you have no relationship with your neighbors, conflict is even more difficult. This is one reason to get to know them. Problems are worked out best when people have a relationship. Allowing hidden resentment does neither of you any good.
- Find common ground from which to build a relationship–lawn and gardening, sports, faith, hobbies and interests. Work on a neighborhood safety committee or organize a gathering.
To love your neighbors requires getting to know them. So don’t isolate with your small group of friends. Get out in your neighborhoods and practice the Gospel of loving others. Most people could benefit from a little more love in their lives. And while some neighbors can be difficult and will never be your best friends, practice civility, forgiveness and love. This might be the best way to represent the Gospel.Getting along with the neighbors