Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Recently, while a friend and I chatted, our conversation veered WAAAAAY off-course… and ended up on the subject of compassion. Along the way, we reminisced about our respective childhoods and upbringings, specifically noting the culture of those times. We discussed those nostalgic and “throw-back” social media memories – whether saddle shoes and sock hops, flower power and wide-as-the-sky bell bottoms, or big hair and shoulder pads. And we all react and share, validating our own youth and recollections.

It all started with my friend disgustedly stating, “People just don’t CARE anymore.” Now, from my unique King’s Ransom Foundation perspective, I heartily disagreed citing the multiple instances of compassion I’m fortunate enough to witness – DAILY! But, as she explained her reasoning, I suddenly “got” what she meant. And, THAT’S where the trip down Memory Lane started. I said, it’s not that people don’t “care”… it’s just we no longer have that “neighborhood” mentality WE grew up experiencing.

An Auntie On Every Corner

My friend and I were extremely blessed to grow up in true “neighborhoods.” We played freely outdoors, exploring and wandering within our adult-specified geographic boundaries. This is not something exclusive to either an urban or suburban upbringing, it transcends a certain decade or era,  it’s not state-specific or even limited by country, and it definitely does not belong to one economic class or group. A neighborhood is where you make friends, have adventures, collect memories and a place you call home. AND… it must include dedicated, sensible and compassionate “supervisors” for these childhood exploits!

In my neighborhood, we could go within a two-block radius and forbidden to go down to the bay front or onto the “alphabet streets” on the far side of our little community. And, dozens of eyes ALWAYS watched us. If we rode through someone’s yard, as a shortcut, you can bet house phones started ringing. A covert trip down to the pier, ended with a horde of mothers striding up the path toward us… and our little legs running all the way home. But, we ALSO knew where we could always score candy, who always had some fun project in their garage and would invite us to help. And, in times of need, we were a casserole and car-pooling brigade!

Is A “Neighborhood” Defined By Geography…Or Something ELSE?!

Bottom line, our neighborhoods were our safety net. An extended family, who shared – and shaped – our lives. And that’s what I pointed out to my friend. As our society has become more transient, we’ve lost some of that “neighborhood” mentality. Let me ask you, do you know the first and last names of everyone who lives on either side or across from you? Hey, I’m the first to admit, I don’t. I work so much and think of home as my sanctuary, so I’m certainly guilty of not making that effort.

However, I still feel the love and support from my personal “neighborhood”… a group of friends who keep me focused, out of trouble, help me when needed, and ALWAYS want the best for me. Even God defines our “neighbors” as our fellow man. “‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.'” (Leviticus 19:18) Do you honestly think He JUST meant “The Smiths” across the street, or “The Koppelmans” next door, or “The Walkers” upstairs?! What about those people you don’t know, two doors down?

Build Neighborhoods Around COMPASSION

He wants us to show compassion for EVERYONE, regardless of whether they live down the street or across the globe. And this is where our mobile, virtual culture today comes back into play – in a GOOD WAY! While we may not have “neighbors” around the corner, we have BUILT online neighborhoods to connect us. Some of these neighbors DO live in our community, many may have crossed our paths somewhere and others just share common interests, goals or friends.

These modern neighborhoods STILL band together… praying together in times of need, donating to those less fortunate, congratulating each other on victories big and small, sharing a laugh (or nostalgic post!) and supporting each other with love and compassion. We even have our OWN King’s Ransom online “neighborhoods” – FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube. If you haven’t checked out our little pieces of internet real estate, we invite you to drop by for a visit, chat a bit and just be “neighborly!”

We need to reclaim that neighborhood mentality and harness this amazing network to “revitalize” hope and compassion in our virtual neighbors! These neighbors still count on us, they still need us and, maybe most comforting, they are still there for us. Going back to those simpler childhood days, we can still find wisdom in the beauty of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood and ask YOU: “Won’t you be OUR neighbor?!” 

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