The Modern Neighbour: Can Ole Time Community Protect Us?

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Remember the lyrics, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood…they’re the people that you meet each day”? Well it is high time “Sesame Street” did a remix, because the people in my neighbourhood are not the people I meet each day. They pass me on the street with their heavily tinted windows, rolled up, each day.
I have never met them, in the true sense of the word ‘met’. The only time we all gather at the same place, at the same time, is when there’s a vehicular accident on the main road, and everyone is rushing to appease his or her ‘maco metre’. And that’s not a very good time to go around introducing yourself.
You see, community life as we knew it, has deteriorated. We see it in several, if not many, communities, and when our children have to sell raffle sheets for school, we are met with this reality. How can we send our children knocking on doors, and we don’t even know who’s behind those doors? So we resort to selling them at our workplaces, because that’s the only community we are familiar with.
After all, who’s got the time to chat with neighbours, when life is on fast-forward, and everyone is so caught up in working, studying and making money? Yeah, we’re all busy, but we’re missing the point. In times like these, when we’re all so busy, community life has real benefits. Who doesn’t want to know there is an entire community, or a few, good neighbours, looking over their home, their children, and their security? Someone can now run into your home and violate your safety with little or no care about someone catching him or her, simply because no one is looking out for anyone else. And that’s where we fall short.
Having a good neighbour who you can carpool with, or who will watch out for your wellbeing is welcome support. But, if my village was to start a neighbourhood watch group, can you imagine how hilarious that would be? We would not be able to tell the strangers to the village from the residents – except of course, I’d know them by their cars. I could match every car to the house it parks by. Besides rolling up their tinted windows, some people don’t step out of their cars to open their gates anymore. There’s remote control for that, and garage doors don’t need you pushing them open. They just slide up and down. So, we’d need a meet and greet evening before even attempting to start a group.
There are some people who still try to get to know people, however. Like my mother, who constantly asks me, “Who’s that?”, when anyone passes by on foot. It’s almost as though she’s caught in a time warp, in the times of yester year, when people knew people.
I long for those days too. When communities had sports days, and children sneaked away to play by the neighbour’s house, and when you were looking for them, you knew exactly where to find them. I remember when you didn’t just look out for your parents, but everyone who knew them, and that was a mighty lot of people. In fact, it was just easier to stay out of mischief, or make sure you covered your tracks well. Now, children pretty much do anything, anywhere.
Then we wonder how our children reach on the other side of the law sometimes. When the parents aren’t home to watch their kids, who is looking out for them? There used to be a time when it took a community to raise a child; now the television set and video games raise them. When we are not home, there is no longer the option of asking a neighbour to ‘keep an eye’ on our child – because many times we don’t speak to our neighbours (and there’s the lack of trust now with so many crimes being committed against children). Now there is an unspoken agreement that you don’t tell another parent what you saw their son or daughter doing.
Indeed, change is inevitable, but certain things should be kept strong. For when we look around, and see what our nation is coming to (or should I say, has already come to), there is no doubt that our society is being destroyed. Our homes aren’t safe havens anymore; neither are our communities. All because people don’t look out for each other. It’s an ‘each man for himself’ scenario.
We need to step away from our prejudices and modern-day thinking a little, and realise that our families aren’t just the people who live under our roofs. Communities are families; the nation is a family. And in those families, there are children being abused, teenagers going astray and hardworking people being robbed of their belongings and sense of security. We need to protect our families, by reaching out and looking out for them. That way, when criminal elements come around, they won’t find one of the flock straying off alone, ready to be preyed on. They’d see a united body, and everyone knows we’re stronger together rather than trying to fight a battle individually.

neighborhoodwatchRemember the lyrics, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood…they’re the people that you meet each day”? Well it is high time “Sesame Street” did a remix, because the people in my neighbourhood are not the people I meet each day. They pass me on the street with their heavily tinted windows, rolled up, each day. 

I have never met them, in the true sense of the word ‘met’. The only time we all gather at the same place, at the same time, is when there’s a vehicular accident on the main road, and everyone is rushing to appease his or her ‘maco metre’. And that’s not a very good time to go around introducing yourself.

You see, community life as we knew it, has deteriorated. We see it in several, if not many, communities, and when our children have to sell raffle sheets for school, we are met with this reality. How can we send our children knocking on doors, and we don’t even know who’s behind those doors? So we resort to selling them at our workplaces, because that’s the only community we are familiar with. 

After all, who’s got the time to chat with neighbours, when life is on fast-forward, and everyone is so caught up in working, studying and making money? Yeah, we’re all busy, but we’re missing the point. In times like these, when we’re all so busy, community life has real benefits. Who doesn’t want to know there is an entire community, or a few, good neighbours, looking over their home, their children, and their security? Someone can now run into your home and violate your safety with little or no care about someone catching him or her, simply because no one is looking out for anyone else. And that’s where we fall short. 

Having a good neighbour who you can carpool with, or who will watch out for your wellbeing is welcome support. But, if my village was to start a neighbourhood watch group, can you imagine how hilarious that would be? We would not be able to tell the strangers to the village from the residents – except of course, I’d know them by their cars. I could match every car to the house it parks by. Besides rolling up their tinted windows, some people don’t step out of their cars to open their gates anymore. There’s remote control for that, and garage doors don’t need you pushing them open. They just slide up and down. So, we’d need a meet and greet evening before even attempting to start a group.

There are some people who still try to get to know people, however. Like my mother, who constantly asks me, “Who’s that?”, when anyone passes by on foot. It’s almost as though she’s caught in a time warp, in the times of yester year, when people knew people. 

I long for those days too. When communities had sports days, and children sneaked away to play by the neighbour’s house, and when you were looking for them, you knew exactly where to find them. I remember when you didn’t just look out for your parents, but everyone who knew them, and that was a mighty lot of people. In fact, it was just easier to stay out of mischief, or make sure you covered your tracks well. Now, children pretty much do anything, anywhere. 

Then we wonder how our children reach on the other side of the law sometimes. When the parents aren’t home to watch their kids, who is looking out for them? There used to be a time when it took a community to raise a child; now the television set and video games raise them. When we are not home, there is no longer the option of asking a neighbour to ‘keep an eye’ on our child – because many times we don’t speak to our neighbours (and there’s the lack of trust now with so many crimes being committed against children). Now there is an unspoken agreement that you don’t tell another parent what you saw their son or daughter doing.

Indeed, change is inevitable, but certain things should be kept strong. For when we look around, and see what our nation is coming to (or should I say, has already come to), there is no doubt that our society is being destroyed. Our homes aren’t safe havens anymore; neither are our communities. All because people don’t look out for each other. It’s an ‘each man for himself’ scenario. 

We need to step away from our prejudices and modern-day thinking a little, and realise that our families aren’t just the people who live under our roofs. Communities are families; the nation is a family. And in those families, there are children being abused, teenagers going astray and hardworking people being robbed of their belongings and sense of security. We need to protect our families, by reaching out and looking out for them. That way, when criminal elements come around, they won’t find one of the flock straying off alone, ready to be preyed on. They’d see a united body, and everyone knows we’re stronger together rather than trying to fight a battle individually.

Christine Dalkan is an introvert whose superpower is her pen. She’s a freelance writer, whose passion for literature consumes her, and whose best friend is the written word. Follow her as she blogs her life away at ckatied.blogspot.com.

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