What does it mean to be a good neighbour?
Growing up in the church, you often heard “love thy neighbour as thyself.” To be honest, as a kid, these types of sayings just went in one ear and out the other. Perhaps it’s my way of learning but I needed to see it. I really only began to internalize this after seeing it played out before me. It took years of observing the Hagar family exemplify this before it finally sunk in. Tommy, Amy, Todd, Nick and Ben lived down the road from us my whole life and still are neighbours to my dad, sister, nephew and future brother-in-law.
While I’m away in England I have comfort knowing that this family, led by Tommy, will always have my family’s interest at heart. The amount of times he’s gone out of his way to plow our driveway, take our garbage to the dump, help with projects around the house or run up to check on my father is countless. A few years ago, when Maggie and I bought our first house together, our neighbour Phil was away for the weekend and his lawn desperately needed to be mowed. Without hesitation, I went over and sorted it and remember thinking of the Hagars. I didn’t do this expecting a sense of self-gratitude. I did it because it became learned behaviour. I did it because that’s what the Hagars would have done. Through my observations I learned what it meant to be a good neighbour and felt a pressure to return the favour.
I’ve tried to continue this behaviour as best I can. The best part is, when you’re a good neighbour, the favour is more likely to get returned. When our neighbours’ lawns need mowing, I’ll go over and mow it. When we were away this weekend and we forgot to close a window, a neighbour reached out to let us know. It’s kind of like having friends; to have a good friend, you need to be a good friend. To have a good neighbour, you need to be a good neighbour.