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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Good Neighbors

Welcome back to Prairie Country. The sun rises later than we do this time of year. And snow has arrived in waves, each leaving its heavy quilt behind, draping over branches and fences and across broad expanses of lawn and fields. So pure white this time of year you need to squint to look at it, waiting for trailblazers and the denizens of the neighborhood to start stirring.

We have good neighbors. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about neighbors of late. What makes ‘em good…or not.

We all live in a variety of neighborhoods. The city street or rural road or stretch of lakefront cabins. The community, the state, the country. Where neighbors can change in a moment from stranger to the person who saves your life.

When the first heavy band of snow dropped down on Fargo last weekend, neighbors came by and Snowmastered and shoveled for each other. When the second band came along just a couple days behind it, the neighborhood hummed again with neighbors helping neighbors.

We saw another community where good neighbors pulled together this week. Omaha. It shouldn’t happen there…like Columbine. Too many neighborhoods where something’s gone awry. But still there were the good neighbors. Like Jodi Longmeyer, who watched her neighbors get shot and still overcame her own fears to get to an area where she could report to police what was going on inside the von maur dept. store.

We’re missing too many of our National Guard neighbors this time of year. Oh, sure, the media will show welcome reunions, and big Christmas dinners with the troops, and those kinds of feel good stories. But it doesn’t feel good that our good neighbors are burdened with their third and fourth and more tours in a misbegotten war and occupation. Or that their country brings them home under stealth of night in flag-draped boxes. Or wounded to struggle for the rehabilitation they need…and deserve. Or some of our leaders brush aside their value with a callous, well after all, they volunteered.

Life here on the Internet is a collection of neighborhoods, too. Some you want to steer away from…and the best, that welcome you in. We’ll try to steer you their way from time to time.

All these neighborhoods are part of the American fabric. And that fabric’s stretched pretty thin these days. The quilt of who we are is looking shabby and threadbare. But there are good neighbors gathering to restore that quilt. You’ll find them if you find it in your heart to look around you.

We’re thinking about our good neighbors this morning. But also thinking about how to be a good neighbor.

It’s little things. Like taking an extra minute to pull out your own snow scraper and help when the old guy in the car next to yours at the grocery is trying to scrape off his windshield with a plastic card. Or taking a bag of toys and other gifts to the local women’s and children’s shelter for their Christmas shop.

Like writing a supportive note on behalf of your neighbors advocating for fair share in the WGA strike.

Like advocating for a political candidate in every neighborhood in which you live. Tell you what, it isn’t easy being the only house with a blue campaign sign in an all-red neighborhood. But keep it up and you just might discover in the fullness of time that other blue signs will appear like hellebores rising up through the snow.

So, too, it isn’t easy being the only non-white face in an all-white neighborhood. Or the only Muslim in a Christian neighborhood. Even the only Lutheran in an evangelical neighborhood. Or working woman amid the country club set.

I hope you’ll think about what it means to be a good neighbor. Which persons where you live just might be in need of a good neighbor. Maybe if enough of us spread that thought around, America itself will become a good neighbor in the world again.

Leave your thoughts if you care to, or carry along some mulling for your day. Thanks for stopping by and come back soon.


LoudounLib said...

Prairie, I'd left you a very late comment over at TRex's place tonight, to wit:

"Prairie Sunshine, if you’re still around — your blog is really nice, and you write so beautifully."

Your place here is so refreshing!

egregious said...

Food for the soul, Prairie. Thank you for being a good neighbor yourself.

Prairie Sunshine said...

'preciate your notes, LoudonLib and Egregious. Prairie Country's subzero this morning, so your warm thoughts are welcome!

Glickster said...

For more about Hellebores: