When Mr. Rogers entered his tv home, he would sing “Won’t You Be My Neighbour.” Neighbour. Who is my / our neighbour? “Are you my neighbour?” “Am I your neighbour?” “Are people who live far away my neighbour?”
What about people who … have a different skin colour … commit murder … speak a different language… who are addicted … are differently-abled … have a mental illness … hold to a different political view … have vision problems … are in prison … have a form of dementia … live on the street … interpret religious teachings from a different perspective … have differently-shaped eyes … lie … aren’t in the same ‘class’ … betray confidences … and the list goes on
As the questions boiled down to one: “Who is my neighbour” this acrostic emerged from my meditation:
N – Not so-close (because of separation by physical, emotional, geographical distance) … are my neighbours.
E- Elderly (of all ages, religions, nationalities) are my neighbours.
I – Inconspicuous (in the decision-making society because of disability, poverty, “ism,” addiction, homelessness, mental illness, terminally-ill, etc.)
are my neighbours.
G – G (at the library, stores, post office, traffic, bank, garage, hairdresser, trades, schools) are my neighbours.
H – Hobby friends who share my interests (in crafts, sports, recreation, volunteerism) are my neighbours.
B – Born recently; born in the future <aka future generations> (of all races, religions, nationalities, countries) are my neighbours.
O – Occupational (people I work with; people I study with; volunteer with) are my neighbours.
U – Unaware of (the Creator, the Holy, Divine, God, By-Whatever-Name) are my neighbours.
R – Related to me (by blood, marriage, law) are my neighbours.
S – Society’s alienated (because of race, sexuality, religion, gender, ability, addiction, illness) are my neighbours.
If all people are my neighbours, issues of injustice, discrimination, care of the environment, abuse, “ism” will surface for me. If animals are my neighbours, issues that affect their health survival will surface for me. Native spirituality refers to trees and plants, water, environment and land as ‘neighbours.” The call to care for these has inspired and continues to inspire generations of people.
That one word … neighbour … can be a wonderful starting-point for conversation, prayer, action about
… “who is my neighbour” … “how am I to treat my neighbour” … “how do I want my neighbour to treat me” … “why do I not treat all neighbours in a similar way” … “am I my brother/sister’s/*neighbour* keeper”
Neighbour. “Won’t you be my neighbour?”
Photo (Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
& Text © June Maffin