Should we care if we know or don’t know the names and characters of most of our neighbours?
Oh, for sure, we might know the fellow down the street who runs one of the car dealerships. And the law enforcement family which has a police vehicle outside all kinds of hours. We might even know the owners of the homes on each side of us.
For the most part, continuing a trend happening for decades in big cities and now in small towns, all of us know fewer and fewer of our neighbours.
Maybe it has something to do with how often people move around these days. One day the teacher a few homes over is moving in. The next day, he is moving out and a lady police officer or another teacher is moving in.
For many people, investing time and energy in making new faces feel welcome is just too much work. They have their own jobs, their own friends, their own families and their relatives all to look after. Keeping up with all those is hard enough for many people, never mind touching base with folks who seem to come and go, and come and go, and come and go.
In the end, it isn’t surprising people who might move around a lot, like law enforcement, tend to stick together. So it is with teachers and immigrants. Not so much for people who grew up in our communities, but certainly with new workers transferring in or taking employment. We are so very tribal, are we not?
And it is kind of sad, actually. Is it so bad not knowing who lives next door, or just down the street?
For example, one does not expect a young child to come knocking on one’s door, crying, lost and looking for mom. But if it happens, what do you do if you know where the child lives? These days, for city dwellers, the first thing is call the police.
If one actually went to the child’s house, most would call someone first to let them know something might be up. Maybe not just a child lost. But a fight. Or worse. If we thought much about it first.
The simple idea most of us wouldn’t think much about it first is a tribute that no matter how much we might not want to walk some streets at night in some cities, we would not hesitate to take the child home immediately.
Neighbourliness and friendliness is a strength in our towns. We should work hard, every day, living this and encouraging this. Do we? Probably nowhere near as much as we could.