Love Thy Neighbour
Thinking beyond oneself doesn’t come naturally to most people. It’s not always easy to show empathy and put yourself in another’s shoes. For myself, I can easily get caught up in my own life to the point that I don’t notice when those around me may be struggling. In our Western culture this is even more of an issue. A survey conducted by the Vancouver Foundation in 2017 showed that over 20% of people don’t know a single neighbour well enough to call on them for help; with the number growing to around 38% for the 18-24 aged demographic. If the same survey was conducted in 2022, I would wager to say that number would be closer to 50%. Living in the city with the pandemic has exacerbated the issue even further as we have been taught in the past two years to be suspicious of our neighbours and to stay away from anyone outside of our immediate circle.
Growing up, I knew everyone around me. We played with the kids next door, the lady across the way used to bring us pies at Christmas, the neighbor right next door to her would watch over us if mom needed a last minute sitter. And if someone needed help, they knew they could turn to anyone around them. You could trust those around you enough to give them the emergency key to your house without any worry. Now, I don’t even know the names of those living right next door. If we see one another, it’s a quick hello and on we go with our day.
This idea of love thy neighbour stuck to me more during the holiday season. I was placed in charge of organizing the Christmas hampers that would go out to families in our community. As we dropped the hampers off, it struck me. Almost every single one went to a family within a 5min drive from my house. Although each story was different, there was a resounding desire from the parents that the children be the ones to receive the gifts. One parent specifically asked me not to include anything for them; they could go without Christmas for a year but this might be the only gift their kids receive. It was that lightbulb moment of realization that things are closer to home than one might realize. This got me thinking – do I know anything about those in my own direct neighborhood? Are there people who are struggling and I’m not noticing because it’s easier to keep my head down than to strike up a conversation with those I see daily.
Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to get to know those around us is not any easy task. Now entering into the new year, I’m taking this as a challenge to go beyond what our society deems comfortable. To have that conversation with the man I see walking the same route at 10am, the family that recently moved in down the street, the neighbours living in the suite next door. I want to reflect this love not only with those near but also with those I reach out to as I continue my partner development. Being supported, whether through prayer, financially, or words of encouragement, is so important but reaching out and building a support team is not something that comes naturally to me. Yet even in writing this newsletter, I’m so excited to share and connect with this community forming around me. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I am so grateful for all of you
- Kim Solomon