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.

Postcards and stampsSo 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.”

Overloaded ClosetJoan’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


7 thoughts on “Neighborliness

  1. Melissa Middleswart

    Linda, this obviously resonates with me. 🙂 We keep doing what we can to do good in the world. And to be neighborly in many ways. I know there are many good people and events in this world, I just wish they were more in the news. But since I mostly ignore the news, to stop myself from being brought down, it’s OK. I sent you a letter with more clippings today. 🙂 Stay warm, as I am trying to do. Melissa

  2. Melinda Artz

    Long ago I was offered the practice of doing something for someone else without getting found out. I thought that was crazy. Why do it if you weren’t going to get ? I gave it a try anyway and I found that it’s the most effective guaranteed mood lifter around. note, I thought you had to do something like give a bunch of money you couldn’t afford to some cause or save somebody from getting hit by a truck. Actually if nothing else is available just picking up litter works

    1. I know what you mean, Melinda; I thought that too at first. Now I am downright gleeful when I pull off a secret gift giving and keep my mouth shut. I find that’s a real test of one’s self-control, too, when the recipient is running around asking who gave this. Tee hee.

  3. Betsy Vinz

    Being neighborly, being thoughtful and nice. Treating others the way you’d like to be treated. And doing special little things without calling attention to yourself . . . not to make yourself feel better, but to brighten someone’s day. My philosophy. Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts, Linda. (P.S. There’s a weekly column in our newspaper in which people are encouraged to write in and share their good deeds. I was raised just to do something because it’s a nice thing, perhaps the right thing to do . . . without calling attention to yourself. Anonymous is the word, according to mother.)

    1. Linda M. Hasselstrom

      Yes, Betsy, I really enjoy the anonymous nice thing, and I think your mother was right. Sometimes it’s impossible, but I like to do it. On the other hand– maybe there are enough folks now whose mothers did not raise them that way so that a newspaper column might “raise their consciousness” and inspire them to do good. Or inspire others to do good. Anyway, thanks for your philosophy and for appreciating these comments.

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