Sunday 4 September 2022

Love Thy Neighbour - II

Neighbours always matter

Early this morning, I found myself answering a question posed on Twitter that garnered a lot of interest and it stated, “Single people who live alone, who takes care of you when you’re ill?

Much as I do not follow the original poster on Twitter, as it had come up on my timeline, I felt there was a need to answer the question from my own experience. This became even more pertinent when I read some responses, many of which suggested people just took care of themselves, though I guess ill to them was probably mild or just being indisposed, as in slightly unwell.

If ill were to involve having to be admitted to hospital or incapacitation due to serious or terminal disease where agency and ability are severely limited, you would hardly be doing things yourself because you just cannot. That is where I have a story that I have written about in a few blogs that will be referenced below this piece.

My answer was: “Neighbours and friends, that's when I realised loving my neighbour as myself was for my safety, not an inconvenience. I had cancer, I was in the hospital for 18 days and when I returned home, I had literally no strength for anything, my neighbours came to help with everything.” [Twitter]

Blog - Love Thy Neighbour (October 2009)

Cultivate neighbourliness

I went on to develop the context of my response about cultivating neighbourliness because when something happens to you, it is probably your neighbours who will need to attend to you first and then contact others that need to know about your situation.

Cultivate neighbourliness, put the effort in knowing the people living around you, make conversation and further, socialise, invite them for tea or dinner. There are times when having your neighbour check on you might be the only help you have before family and friends know.” [Twitter]

Another thing I wanted to stress about neighbours was that there might be no similarities or commonalities between you and your neighbours, but just the proximity of living spaces. You have to be ready to embrace their humanity in all its difference and diversity just as the Good Samaritan to the stranger.

I could imagine the surprise of some when I said my closest neighbour that did my laundry, some cooking, collected my medication from the pharmacy and did some shopping amongst other things were a Dutch and French-German couple.

Neighbours are your safety

We had cultivated our relationship for years, they were always on the lookout for me, when they first moved in, I welcomed them, they could use my parking space, I celebrated the birth of their children, and if I was in town, we would spend New Year's Eve together into the early hours of the New Year. I was frequently invited for dinner, they were family. A decade after I left the Netherlands, we are still in contact, and I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to them.

Without trying to rewrite blogs that I have written before as this is just to reiterate the usefulness of neighbourliness, I conclude with a saying that became my guide for every place that I have lived. “Love thy neighbour as thyself is not an inconvenience, it is for your safety.”

Blog - Love thy neighbour and bike off

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