Monday, February 21, 2022

Neighbors

Napoleon in Exile at St Helena
photo credit: Helen Leah Reed, Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain

Much like family, we don't usually get to pick our neighbors. Pleasant times spent with a neighbor chatting and sharing stories, drinks, or a meal provide a sense of belonging, security, and peace of mind within immediate and familiar surroundings--extending the valued bubble of comfort and security of home that anyone should be able to expect. 

Some neighbors become life-long friends. Some take on the care of houseplants or pets when we travel. Looking out for each other and caring about someone else are good qualities in folks we'd call good neighbors.

Of course, in different ways tough on everyone are those neighbors only interested in themselves. Least troublesome are the ones who keep to themselves. But the one or two who dispute the fence-line, push too much, or make a lot of noise or worse are the flip-side. 

More widely in the world they're often mocked or illustrated as ridiculous but dangerous, frighteningly real compared to the cartoon characters their actions prompt. 

I recall a Donald Duck cartoon strip in which Donald got his feathers so greatly in a flap with his neighbor that they each frantically built fences higher and higher on their adjacent fence-line, to outdo each other.

Eventually, the fences were many times higher than their homes, bending and swaying from the height of the fences that Donald and his neighbor were atop and still building, when the cartoonist summoned a tornado to whisk both fences away onto a nearby body of water--there to serve as life-rafts for passengers escaping a ferry that was overturned by the same tornado--such is the power of the cartoonist's pen to find a good ending to madness.

The longer that dangerous actions are allowed, the greater the harm for everyone.