Synchronicity! On the day I took notes for this commentary, Joan Bachman, who has been a writing guest at Windbreak House, wrote in her blog just what I was thinking:
Neighborliness doesn’t seem to hit the papers as often as hate-speech and noisy people demonstrating against something.
You might not get as much attention by being neighborly as you would by marching in the streets screaming, but you’ll feel better, and you’ll improve the lives of others. And you don’t have to make any signs.
For example, I have a friend-by-correspondence who knows that I have found a particular way to help save my writing time while responding to those who write asking for my help.
I can’t simply ignore people who write to me; I learned guilt at my mother’s knee– so politeness requires that I acknowledge those who write to admire my writing, or who ask how to get published. No matter how basic their questions are, or how easy it would be for them to find the information elsewhere, I feel guilty if I don’t respond.
So instead of writing long letters, I often write postcards. This method saves some of my writing time and energy and requires me to compress my comments into the small space.
Knowing this, my correspondent friend often sends me 20 postcard stamps. And she even warned me that, beginning January 27, the new rate for postcards would be 37 cents, so I’d have to add some postage.
What a neighborly act this is, in the true sense of the word! I have never met this woman, though I know we share certain interests because of the clippings we exchange on news items that catch our attention. But we are neighbors in what I consider the best sense of the word: one who is generous, who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans.
As Joan Bachman says, neighborliness has to do with positive actions. Well, read her blog for yourself. (find a link below)
She says, “I hope that you appreciate this BLOG and will take action to demonstrate what you are FOR. A ‘positive’ action is energizing.”
Joan’s positive action for that day was “cleaning a closet.” She intended to “recycle some, but toss most of the stuff. (I have a tendency to use things until there’s not much worth left). This will be my ‘positive’ action for the day.”
So her definition was a positive action that didn’t affect her neighbors directly, showing that the definition need not be narrow. Any positive action will improve your own mood, which will in turn make you more likely to be kindly toward your neighbors, whether they are nearby or across an ocean.
As Mark Twain said,
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.
Linda M. Hasselstrom
Windbreak House Writing Retreats
Hermosa, South Dakota
© 2019, Linda M. Hasselstrom
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Read Joan Bachman’s February 5, 2019 blog post “The Way Things Are” here