Who is My Neighbor?

Gulf Oil Spill from Space

NASA Photo of Gulf Oil Spill from Space

If you create a website about people acting as good neighbors, you have to ask yourself: who is my neighbor? As I look around at various events happening around the world, I can’t help but take “neighbor” in the global sense. We are all neighbors to one another, no matter where we are positioned geographically. So my neighbor isn’t just the people in the house next door, my neighbor is a factory worker in China who made part of my computer, or the laborer who stooped to pick the strawberries I at for breakfast. I can choose to become neighbors with people anywhere in the world when I donate money to charitable organizations. I have dozens of neighbors on Facebook and Twitter who I interact with on a regular basis.

Staring us in the face every day on the news is the now infamous “bad” neighbor, BP. My guess is that company executives do not have what I would call a “Neighborhood Mindset”, that when they risk drilling a well somewhere in the world, they become the neighbors of the people and environment surrounding that well. A Neighborhood Mindset is one that reflects how one’s actions might affect a next door neighbor. I will take precautions to protect not only myself, but my neighbor as well. And I would hope my neighbor would do the same.

Of course, it is not easy being a good neighbor all the time. We make mistakes and we are often so self-absorbed we don’t realize that the words we say or the actions we take are hurting others. As one of my heroes, Stuart Smalley, would say, “progress, not perfection.”

Here’s to progress toward becoming a better neighbor to all our neighbors. No matter where they live.


  1. Sande Rajcic says:

    The word “neighbor” meant “best friend” to my mother. When she died at the age of 83, there were still a handful of neighbors her age who had been living side by side for nearly 60 years to mourn her passing. To be a neighbor to my parents meant to treat someone like family. In contrast, being “neighborly” to many of us these days here in southern California means saying “have a nice day,” abiding by the homeowner’s association rules and regulations, and generally minding one’s own business. In my parent’s generation, one learned to be neighbor to the world through being a neighbor to the people who lived next door. Perhaps, just perhaps, in our generation, being a good neighbor to people around the globe will teach us and empower us to be good neighbors to the people who live on our streets and beside our houses. One can only hope.

  2. pammarino says:

    Nice observation, Sande. Thank you for sharing that.