Letters of the Heart – August 2014

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Great Neighbors Make Great Neighborhoods

Here’s a comment I read online that got me thinking about my neighbors differently.
“I’ve had cause lately to examine my cultural prejudices. I’m not talking about international culture. I’m talking about family culture.
Family culture is about ‘the way we do things in our family.’ It’s the feeling we get when we go to someone else’s house for dinner for the first time, and it feels ‘foreign.’
Like most people, I measure other families to my own standards, and of course, my standards are always higher. For instance, I have my son mow the grass, rather than using a gardener as most of my neighbors do. It’s because I want him to learn to do unpleasant chores responsibly. I judge my neighbors for coddling their sons. So imagine my surprise when I was chatting with one of these neighbors, and she confided in me: ‘I was wondering why you force your son to mow the lawn. It seems so degrading.’
That’s what got me thinking about my cultural prejudices and wondering which families I’m judging because they do things differently. I’ve resolved to be friendlier and if the chance presents itself, to talk about our differences. I may not have liked my neighbor’s approach to talking about my son, but it did open up both our eyes, and we had a good laugh.”
At the very least, this comment reminds us to look at our neighbors with more empathy, and to notice if we’ve pulled away from them because they’re too “different” from us. I believe that great neighbors make great neighborhoods, and we’re all charged with being great neighbors.
Melanie Bowers
Your Consultant For Life
P.S. If you’ve got a story to tell, you can reach me at melaniebowers@gmail.com or by calling me at 801-910-7436.

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