Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Love Your Neighbour

The idea of living in a world inspired by the thoughts and actions that lead towards PEACE is a dream of mine. We are far from that in today’s society but we are getting better every day. The many that are presently striving to bring about this ideal have learned, as I have, that this ideal is one that must be realized by individual consciousness and cannot be forced upon others. To influence others, one can only act as an example, sharing with and inspiring others with peaceful action in the pursuit of peaceful consequence.

My next door neighbour and I live by this ideal. Several months ago, I was coming home from work, in the early afternoon, and my neighbour was just finishing mowing my front lawn. Of course, I thanked him and throwing a joke in, I told him that my back lawn also needed to be cut. We both laughed. He explained to me that because our front lawns were joined and both very small that it was easier for him to simply mow both areas. I was very happy to share in the joyous consequences of his peaceful action.

The next week the same thing had happened: Robin had mowed both of our front lawns. The following week I made a huge effort to make sure that it was me who mowed both of our front lawns – I wanted to share with Robin the consequences of my peaceful action. The next two weeks I had also been able to be the first to mow this area. Yesterday, he beat me to it!

This is the type of world that I want to build for future generations: one where individuals go out of their way to be nice to each other on a continuous basis – not just because it is a ‘holiday season’ or a ‘time to give’. It should be a time to give and share every day.

It is too bad that my neighbours, who live directly across the street, don’t know the joy that this positivity brings. They share a small patch of lawn with their neighbours that is about ten feet wide – between their two houses. When they mow this area they mow only their lawn, leaving about two feet of grass uncut because it is not there property. When their neighbour mows this area they mow the entire space even tho’ their neighbour’s grassed area is twice as large. I often wonder what is hindering people from appreciating the peaceful actions of others.

These neighbours not only ignore the peaceful actions of others but also seem to go out of their way to cause disturbances with those that share this same living area. This is the disturbance that they gave me, just yesterday:

I was leaving my house, on my way to work and I saw our neighbours leaving their house, as well. I waved across the street and said hello and they did the same and when I made a comment about how beautiful the day was the lady of the house said “Yes it is… and by the way I need to speak with you about something!” 9 times out of 10 when someone says “I need to speak with you about something”, it usually means that there is a problem.

Not expecting this – I couldn’t imagine why they would have a problem with me – I waited to hear what she had to say. She then told me that her problem revolved around the fact that I had left my laundry on my front porch to dry. “It looks trashy!” was how she told me. And she shared her opinion for several minutes. In my mind I was thinking of questions that I would have liked to have asked her, like: ‘What are you hoping to gain by insulting me the way that you are?’, ‘Do you have a list with all the neighbours names on it and notes about how they are not as good as you?’, ‘Trashy… you think I’m trashy? How can anyone feel justified in forwardly insulting another?’ and ‘How is a white rack filled with freshly cleaned clothes, hung neatly and with care (placing socks and undergarments hidden behind t-shirts) sheltered under a covered porch on a rainy day trashy?’

My Porch

So… when she was finished sharing her mind with me, the first thing I did was apologize for my actions which had upset her. I then shared with her the reason why my clothes were on my front porch. I explained how I put great effort in making sure that my actions had positive results for the Earth, how I:
Rode my bike to and from the laundromat, not using my car, which causes pollution.
Use the most environmentally friendly laundry detergents.
Hang my clothes on folding clothes lines, not wasting energy (with an industrial powered dryer) in the drying process.
Had no choice but to put my laundry on my front porch only on two occasions this summer because it was raining and there was no shelter in my backyard – where my clothes usually hang to dry.

Do you think that she understood the value of my words to realize that it was not my intention to upset her?

Knowing that she would be the type of person that needed to have the last words of any conversation, I conciliated. She ended the conversation with a few snorts and a final insult to me, barely audible under her breath.

This experience will not deter me away from continuing to ‘love your neighbour’, but sometimes it is more difficult than others!

I was rather upset by this whole matter and I shared this story with Joanne. With a burst of laughter she hugged me and said “Why do you let the silly things people will forever do, bother you so much?” Joanne asked if our neighbour approved of the way we parked our car or arranged the chairs on the porch or the colour of our dog and this made me have a big ‘ol laugh about the whole incident!!!


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