I often think that I am living in my neighborhood to learn how to genuinely love others. It is such a huge challenge for me as an introvert to get out and meet my neighbors. Many of them I never even noticed before we had children. The people on my street generally keep to themselves, and look out their windows to watch each other coming and going. The longer I live in my neighborhood, the more I realize that it is our duty to get to know each other and learn how to be amicable to one other. There are 5 reasons why I think getting to love and know your neighbor is not optional, but rather, it is critical.
1. Neighbors need to watch out for one another.
Some neighborhoods are more prone to crime than others, but all neighborhoods need each other to stick together and watch was going on. Outside of your family, your neighbors are important when you need someone else to look after you, your home, or your family. My neighborhood is diverse in regards to ethnic groups as well as age groups. We all have to learn how live among one another and get to know each other. The funny thing is how many of us are not sure who our neighbors are, if you were in line at a store, would you know if you were in line with your neighbor, would you be able to recognize him or her outside of your community?
2. You should be able to call on at least one neighbor in case of an emergency.
A couple of weeks ago, we hand an emergency at my home in the middle of the night. My kids were asleep and I called the ambulance. I had no other choice but to call on a neighbor to come over and watch my kids so I could go to the hospital. You need to get to know your neighbors because you never know when or if you may need their help in an emergency. Knowing your neighbors is even more important if you live in an area where you have no family or close friends.
At the very least, you should be able to contact one or two of your neighbors in case of an emergency via telephone or by email.
3. You can learn from your neighbors.
Owning a home or living in a community for a long time there are lessons you can learn from each other. Neighbors that have lived in your community for a long time are full of a wealth of knowledge. For instance, if you need work done on your home, sure you can contact Angies List or another similar organization, but checking in with a neighbor who had work done in the past in that area is even more valuable. He or she can help you get a special deal to get the job done. Many companies also offer referral discounts so you all could help each other with future home related projects.
4. Getting to know your neighbor is the first place where acting out compassion starts.
Human beings need each other, that’s a life fact. We may not always have things in common or want to hang out together, but we should be respectful and willing to extend ourselves to others when we can. If your neighbor is welcoming a new baby, has a death in the family, is ill, etc you should lend a kind word or helping hand when you can. Through these simple gestures, this is how other people can learn to see God through you and your actions. Something as simple as a card can really show a person that you care.
5. Even if you may never need your neighbor, your neighbor may need you.
There’s a quote by George Eliot that reads, “People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.” Wow, what a profound life changing statement. How are we showing love to our neighbors?
The bible tells us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
For years people have tried to draw a line and figure out who around you actually qualifies as a neighbor; in general, we should get to know one another on some level and be able to interact and communicate with each people effectively.
Reader question: Who do you define as your neighbor? How far does the word neighbor extend for you?
According to Ana Monnar in her book Express Yourself 101: Dancing with Words, Volume 1 she says, “All human beings are my neighbors. We share the same planet.”