“Wouldn’t the world be happier, friends, if in our dealings with one another we could always truthfully say that whatever we thought or said or did expressed the nature of God as divine Love? …This may sound like an impossible goal. But it really isn’t. When we understand how to listen for divine Love’s guidance, there’s no need to be thrown off base by what our neighbor does or doesn’t do. Of course we’re all familiar with the temptations that would upset good relations… a dog or too loud radio keeps someone awake half the night; someone decides a neighbor isn’t good enough, has the wrong kind of name, or perhaps one envies the good thing his neighbor has…But whatever the temptation, we can refuse to be impulsive or spiteful, self-righteous or jealous. Through the understanding of divine Love each of us can learn to be a good neighbor. And a good neighbor doesn’t gossip, criticize, or even wish that he or the folks next door could move away. “
– The Christian Science Sentinel, December 4, 1954
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good neighbor. So when I stumbled, all unexpectedly, on the article “The Remedy for Neighborhood Tensions” from an old 1954 Christian Science Sentinel, I felt the train of my thoughts come skidding to a halt as I stopped to ponder the ideas the article had to offer me.
As I’ve reflected on “neighborliness” I’ve come to understand that being a good neighbor doesn’t mean we have to “take sides” in neighborhood disputes. I don’t have to hate one neighbor to show love to another. I don’t have to criticize one neighbor, to show friendship to another. I don’t have to gossip about one neighbor, to show support for another. I don’t have to get angry or fired up or militant to take a firm stand for what is right and decent.
Being a good neighbor comes down to this one thing: I simply need to love – without exclusion or discrimination or judgment or condemnation. That’s my whole job, right there. To love. I need to see my neighbor as God sees my neighbor – as God’s dear child – beautiful and good and whole and happy. If I can see my neighbor through the eyes of God, Love, then I won’t be threatened or annoyed or irritated or frightened by him – I’ll enter into dialogue with him expecting to find solutions to conflict, and answers to problems.
Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I’m thinking that means that what we want for ourselves, we should want for our neighbors, too. If I want to be trusted, then I need to be willing to trust. If I want to be treated with consideration, than I need to be considerate. If I want to be shown kindness, then I need to show kindness.
…And Love is reflected in love.
– Mary Baker Eddy