Neighbourly Affection

Human nature is sensitive to the subtleties of emotions just as it is to feeling the five senses and the swirling thoughts in our heads. Just like everything else, we tend to limit our range and settle into the comfort of habits. Instead of indulging in the heightened springs of new experiences today we often relax into numb routines which offer us security. There are no prescriptions or mandates, only the promise of something else should we wish to explore. One of those horizons offers us emotional bonds which truly matter and have weight and substance attached to them. Often this type of relationship only forms between those in our immediate families and the few withstanding friendships we carry over the spans of our lifetime. For many of us, gone are the days when true communities existed, where each passing man or woman was a neighbour to the next. Where the word ‘stranger’ existed only for those who were truly foreign and therefore strange. The word community, in fact, means ‘body of fellows’. The word body says it all. The essence of the bond between neighbours is that they acknowledge that they are parts of the same body. The left hand understands that the right hand is its brother, the feet its cousins and the head and heart its father and mother. This is a way of being which establishes a sense of emotional unity, where affection and pride in each other is a natural by-product of simply being a member and citizen of the community.

The distance between this type of emotional bond, between each and every passing member of society, and what we have in most urban cities, is remarkably vast. The extent is mind-numbing and daunting to any ambitions to reverse or remedy the situation. The Ghandis, Daila Llamas and Mother Theresas of the world have their work truly cut out for them. And the nihilists, solipsists and realists will all look in the other direction, avoiding to place attention on a type of venture which seeks to do what they seem to think is the impossible. And yet, we are referring and relating to something which is very natural to human nature. With greater numbers, larger communities and crowded spaces, this natural tendency lacks the air to breathe. Unfortunately the naysayers have more going for them during our times than the idealists and proliferators of philanthropy and social service.

So the vision has to be cut in half. No, never mind. It has to be cut into very, very small pieces. The work of those who seek to resurrect the emotional bonds which create genuine community and societal well-being has to be done in eyeshot’s reach and grasp. When walking through the street there has to be a reminder within to engage with those who pass by us, if even to simply acknowledge the fact that a living human being is passing by you. To thank the person on the other side of the counter at the grocery store and consciously appreciate the interaction which is occuring before your eyes. To grasp and seize the opportunity to slow down your car and give way to those who are waiting to cross the street or pass by you in the highway. As you stroll by the man who sweeps the road and picks up the litter, act on the urge to gesture towards them as equals and fellows of a shared community. In very easy and practical ways we can serve by example as neighbours. It is, in fact, quite natural to us and fosters genuine contentment and happiness in our hearts. Who can possibly argue with that? And why would they?

One response to “Neighbourly Affection

  1. I’ve never read a piece on neighbourly love that was so eloquently put. It is amazing how we often forget the amazement of our own existence, and that we are, all part of the same… Source.

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