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To love your neighbor, you have to know them first

The man asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:24. Jesus replied by talking the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Do you know your neighbor?

I heard the radio announcer refer to a poll that found 61 percent of people would like to know their neighbor.

It doesn't just happen -- don't wait for them to come to you, take the initiative, the first step and make it happen. Introduce yourself, shake hands. The weather is always a good conservation starter. If they are new neighbors, welcome them.

The dictionary says a neighbor is a person living next door to or very near to another. I think it should include those to the left and to the right, across the street and across the alley. Also, a neighborhood includes all living in a district within a town or city. In the country, your neighbor might be miles away but lives in your area, such as those northwest of town or southeast of town, etc.

When I started this topic, I remembered back when I was a kid, my dad kept his eye on what his neighbor farmers did when Rudolph started to cut wheat, Dad did the same. When Jim and I moved to the farm in 1960, Dad took Jim along with him as they drove around the neighborhood. That's how Jim learned who our country neighbors were.

Just recently, a lady told me she remembered Jim -- that he always waved when he drove by her farmhouse on the way to town. She smiled, sharing how much it pleased her family, that friendly wave from Jim Flinn.

I remember he always waved to the person in the oncoming car. I'd ask "Who was that?" He'd say "I don't know. It's just the neighborly thing to do."

I checked with the Hays Police Department about a Neighborhood Watch program. Lt. Brandon Wright said it has been 10 years since a watch has been active in Hays. The criteria that needs to be met is complicated and demanding. We are lucky to a comparatively safe city to live in -- neighbors watch out for each other.

In The Hays Daily News, on page A2,this announcement is printed often. "The Hays Police Department and Community Oriented Policing asks residents to turn on their porch lights on at night for neighborhood safety." The schedule printed there tells you when it's your turn.

Neighbors come in all sizes. They might be young, single, students, newlyweds, parents with kids, empty-nest couples, grandparents, seniors or widowed.

All have different needs and things to offer each other. Make friends, visit over the fence or hedge like Dagwood and Herb do and the Flintstones' Fred and Barney did.

Do you come home, go into your house, close the door, pull the drapes and live protected from the outside world?

There are many reasons why we should know the people living in our neighborhood. I'll list just a few that came to mind. When you need a helping hand; someone to keep an eye on your house when you are away; someone to take all the extra zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes; someone to notice your papers are piling up in your yard; barbecue or block party. In the country, neighbors let you know when your fence is down or cattle are out.

Also knowing the children your kids play with is important. One lady told me when her children grew up, her yard was always filled with kids playing after school and during the summer. But nowadays, the children don't spend time outside creating games, using their imagination, getting fresh air and exercise. Seems they spend their spare time operating electronic games or texting their friends in the security of their home.

* * *

I want to thank those who gave the cross on the hill south of Yocemento a facelift. The weeds and grass have been cleared away, and they gave the cross a bright white face. The neighborhood has been blessed; the shining cross is back for us to admire. Thank you.

When autumn comes and leaves from your neighbors' tree fall in your yard, don't forget the wonderful shade you enjoyed from that tree on hot days last summer.

The blessings outnumber the complaints. Always look for the positive side of having or being a good neighbor.

A smile, a wave, saying "good morning" are a few of the neighborly things to do. Give it a try.

You'll be rewarded.

Opal Flinn is a member of The Hays Daily News Generations advisory group.