Are You a Good Neighbor?

Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly
Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly

My first son’s early years were started with Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Do you remember the words of his song at the beginning of each show? Here is a link to Mr. Rogers singing his song.

The last verse’s words evoke much thinking. In case you didn’t watch the video, here is the last verse of his song.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my neighbor? 

I really miss Mr. Roger’s gentle, kind presence on kids’ TV. This song has so many implications for us as adults also though.

Are you the kind of neighbor others would want to live near or beside? Do you care about your neighbors? Granted there are some people who are not “good” neighbors.

If you have rowdy, or noisy, or inconsiderate neighbors, what do you dislike specifically? Are they noisy outside? Do they borrow things and never return them? Do they let their kids practically stay at your house and eat your food? Do they play their stereo so loud you can hear it from your own house? Do they ask you to babysit their kids while they run an errand and don’t come back for hours? Do they use foul language in front of your kids?

What qualities would you like to see in your neighbors? I appreciate a smile, wave or greeting as we pass each other. I live in a condominium with some of the sweetest people. If I need help, anyone who is able would come help. And I have done the same thing myself. I like to do little things for them. I must admit living in a building with 10 other families is a bit different than living in a huge multi-level building where you hardly know your neighbors. Nevertheless it pays to scope out and get to know your neighbors to help form at least a casual relationship.

Sometimes there isn’t much you can do about your neighbors though. But you can be a good neighbor to other neighbors and maybe even the rude ones. (But I have to admit there is a point at which some take and take and never give back. Then you have to reconsider your generosity because it is encouraging them to use you.) However when it is at all possible try to be a good neighbor in spite of their behavior unless it would be dangerous to interact with them.

What kind of neighbor are you? What effects do you want to have on your neighbors? How do you handle difficult or challenging situations? How do people react to you? What do you offer to: make the world better; help other people; share with others; contribute?

First of all I want to clarify that we should be ourselves as much as possible within the constraints of appropriateness, our comfort zone and the situation at hand. There will always be someone we irritate or misunderstand; just as there will always be someone who irritates or misunderstands us. There will also be someone whom we can not stand to be around and likewise.

Do you ever stop to wonder what it is that irritates you about them? Or what about your personality that irritates them? Was it something you or they said, did, behaved badly about, or did they demonstrate a side of themselves you hadn’t noticed before?

But in a situation with friends, what difference do you make in encounters with them? Do people enjoy being with you? Do they enjoy your presence and input to conversations? Do they laugh with you? Do they feel comfortable sharing their time with you or even their fears and dreams?

When there is a stressful situation, not everyone is able to handle tension. Do you stop to think how the pressure is affecting yourself or the other people? Do you jump in and lead when there is an emergency or do you provide support to the “leader?” Or do you walk away and think, “That’s not my problem.”?

We all have different abilities, so not everyone can be everything in any given situation. But each of us, whether purposefully or inadvertently, contributes something to a stressful event simply by our reactions. Do you add more stress to a situation or do you try to defuse the stress and try to bring everyone together?

These questions made me think about how I react to situations and then made me understand how I became who I am now. A large portion of who I am was learned from my parents and the rest from being a nurse and other adult experiences.

My parents were kind people and helped others in hard situations. I learned from some classmates that people could be both kind and unkind. From these two sources I knew I wanted to be on the kind side. I did not enjoy the pain, emotional or physical, of others so I sought to be the kind of person that anybody would feel comfortable with.

Because of my years of nursing in ICU/CCU, Medical surgical nursing and telemetry nursing, I learned a lot about health and ways to help some situations and to recognize health problems that required medical attention, and to some degree what to do in an emergency.

From my years with a husband whose personality changed due to his poorly controlled diabetes and seeing the effects of high blood sugar and low blood sugars, I knew when medical attention was required. Then when he had a back problems, a stroke, a colectomy gone bad, and finally his death from severe heart failure, I learned how to cope with a sick family member on a daily basis, as well as the loss of that loved one.

As I got older my goal became: to make a difference in the world. I try to exhibit kindness, love, compassion, understanding, and patience. I want to help make the world a better place even if it is only in my “neck of the woods.”

4 thoughts on “Are You a Good Neighbor?

  1. In this era of instant and abundant “information” it is easy to be overwhelmed and brought down as so much of what we see and hear on the “news” is depressing. I am glad it does not get you down permanently. It is a gift to be able to remain positive and it has a wonderful effect on all the people around you.


    1. Thank you, Anne! Your words are affirming to me that I might be helping the world in my little neck of the woods. I write to try to make someone laugh, learn, or feel inspired. Thank you!


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