Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Good neighbors....

Julie can always be counted on to come up with a good topic for examination. Each week, she presents a topic for everyone to collectively examine and dumps it all on the table, each contribution, and it provides a good focal point for seeing what others have to say, their perspectives and experiences.

I like it. If you haven't already been drawn into participation, give it a look and see what you think.

Being a good neighbor is one of those concepts that can be taken in many directions, although I see it is a bit linear.

The way we treat our house mates is likely how we will treat the folks next door. How we treat the folks next door is probably how we treat our immediate community. How we treat our immediate community is likely how we treat our city. How we treat our city... and so on.

Ultimately, it is a reflection of how we treat the world. It is a reflection of our place in it and how we choose to present ourselves.

Many of the problems on a macro level are evident in the micro.

If we carelessly make noise, yell, bring negativity and abuse our immediate environment, we are probably equally inconsiderate of how we behave in the world at large.

In general, I find most people just want to live peacefully.

But there are those....

Using my neighbors as an example, their attitudes border on complete and utter selfishness, caring only about themselves and what they want.

They think nothing of blasting their music at ear-splitting levels, playing music that is both offensive in content and in sound. In order to be heard, they yell above it. They allow their children to screech and scream without regard for the sensibilities of those who must surround them.

If I could become invisible and follow them around, my guess is that they are also the ones who pull up to red lights, car shivering with pounding bass and filthy language streaming out the windows like a fetid smell.

This summer alone, I have had to call the police several times.

It fails to register with me how anyone can honestly believe that everyone within a quarter-mile radius wants to share in their reverie, why we want to share in their particular choice of electronic entertainment.

These are the same people who think nothing of coming over here and picking my roses.

It's not that I care so much about someone picking a rose. If they'd ask, I'd probably give them five.

Still, it is a self-centeredness, a lack of consideration for others an an assumption of entitlement to behave however they choose and the rest of us have to just live with it.

This is often an example I present to those who argue for anarchy. We unfortunately need laws to regulate behavior. Where simple consideration fails, we have to have a system in place to control the bad behavior of those who do not choose to live in a community.

Finally, I believe the only way to create more "good neighbors" is to start in childhood, with parents teaching the benefits and obligations that are a part of living in community. It needs to be reinforced in the schools, churches and other media involved in social engineering and cultural development. Social harmony is necessary for us to avoid annihilating each other.



MsLittlePea said...

I completely agree with you. I'm very happy to live in a condo building where I live on the top floor. The nice couple who live below me are snow birds and stay for a couple months out of the year and the condo next to ours is a vacation rental so I'm pretty lucky I don't have any horror stories about them. There's a guy on the first floor though who feels the need to warm up his loud motorcycle always at the very moment I'm enjoying a quiet rest on the balcony and once in a while brings a woman home for the weekend to blast horrible music until 4am. She also has a very loud dog that I feel sorry for because they leave him on the porch all the time-thus the barking. Most everyone else in my neighborhood like everywhere else I've lived, are really nice people.

You totally hit the nail on the head with the words,"self-centeredness, a lack of consideration for others an an assumption of entitlement."

Cecilieaux said...

What happened to the "you comment - I reply" policy? No comment for last post's 19 comments.

Christine said...

they picked your roses?!?!

and i completely agree with the last bit about teaching our children how to be good neighbors. i try so hard to make sure my kids know we are citizens of the whole world and we are not the center of it. we have a responsibility to care for our friends and neighbors and treat them with kindness and love. the golden rule is not outdated.

now if i could only grow to like my squirrel neighbors--they stole (i am not kidding here) 50-60 pears off our tree while we were on vacation. bad rodent neighbors indeed!

thailandchani said...

MsPea, the loud motorcycle would have to go, too! People who own them should warm them up in the garage or something. We have a guy across the street who has a vehicle with no exhaust system. No muffler. He leaves at 4.00 a.m.

Wouldn't it be nice to live out in the country where we don't have to put up with other people's weirdness? :)


Cecileaux, I answered them a little while ago. I do not commit to answering them before posting something new.


Christine, at least your squirrel neighbors aren't doing it consciously. They're doing it for survival. LOL

Yep. They pick my roses! Unbelievable, isn't it?

I do wish more people had a sense of teaching their children that sometimes community is more important than individualism.




jen said...

i saw Julie's post and was wondering how i'd contribute. i have neighbors that annoy me but they are truly fine individuals. just noisy. or i am just grumpy.

thailandchani said...

Jen, I suspect the reason for the annoyance is the issue. It depends on how much someone else's actions interfere with your peace in your home. For me, the loud music is a huge issue.. but other things don't bother me much. I'll bet some people wouldn't be bothered by the loud music.

I have to admit though... ear splitting volume on one's own music must be rather obvious. You know, it's not contained in a bubble.

Hm. I doubt you're grumpy.




flutter said...

I wish I had something coherent to add, here but I just wanted you to know I am reading.

slouching mom said...

I think I've been unusually lucky with neighbors to date. I hope that continues. It really makes a difference.

painted maypole said...

sounds like your neighbors need to learn to be NICE. I think what you wrote about ties into being nice... that you can be nice without changing your point of view - you could still listen to expletive filled music, but you'd do it on your headphones, or at a lower volume. :) Being a nice person or a good neighbor is being considerate of others, despite your differences.

Aliki2006 said...

We have always tried to happily co-exist with neighbors, even when things got tricky. I think we drew the line once at our downstairs neighbor's pot smoking. It was an old house with two apartments and the smoke would drift upstairs and into our living room while we watched TV. Oh, and I was pregnant at the time.

But I do think being a good neighbor should extend everywhere--even outside one's own immediate block.

crazymumma said...

Lord of the Flies just popped in to my head while reading this.

or any post apocalyptic movie or story I have ever read.

We are lucky with our neighbours. Blessed in fact.

QT said...

Chani - I am lucky to have no neighbors for about a 1/2 mile in either direction. I should play my music at ear splitting volumes more often, since I can without disturbing anyone! My geese are rather noisy, I definitely would not be able to have them if I had other families living close by.

If anyone would mess with any of my plants, there would be an in-person visit. I don't know how I would tolerate it.

Growing up, we had an enormous lilac tree in our backyard. One of our neighbors would regularly come and cut some lilacs off of it. My parents allowed it, but I always felt so violated when I would go in the backyard and see her there. Whenever I would try to express this, my mother would try to explain to me that we had more flowers than we could possibly enjoy, and we should share them to be good neighbors.

Snoskred said...

The topic is a little close to home this week, we've just given the notice to move out of here. :) Because of noise. Because of inconsiderate people.

I'd write more here, but I need to pack. I posted on the topic. ;) I hope you'll be able to forgive me over the next few weeks, I may not be able to comment on every post but I will be reading them. I'll try to let you know I read it even if I don't have the time to go further in depth. ;) I know how important that is to you as a blogger.


Gwen said...

It's the new American motto, don't you know? "What's good for me, is good for me."

Mary said...

i hear you, Chani. I have wanted to annihilate some neighbors of my past. It starts off with unruly, barking dogs, complimented by unruly, loud-mouthed, bratty kids, and topped off with disrespectful, selfish adults (parents). Learned behavior at its finest.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Community is a thing of the past, sadly. At least in much of this country.

My next-door neighbor of the dominatrix shoes also likes to play head-banger music, of which the bass line thrums through the walls like a Chinese water torture.

We seem to live in a "me first" world, and I find it increasingly dehumanizing.

Compare the popular music of today, most of which sounds like strident scolding, to the intelligent, tender lyrics of Cole Porter. He was before my time, too, but I am wistful about an era in which people respected one another and had manners, which they taught to their children.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Growing up we lived next door to a church which was used by several different denominations. My mother used to get so mad when the various church goers would stop and pick her lilacs to give to their priest or pastor. Hoping mad! And I think the irony did not escape her.

However, living in the country is not necessarily a solution as some people think that b/c they live in the country they can do anything.

mitzh said...

My neighbors seems to have a life of their own.

Emily said...

I like all your posts, but this might be my favorite. It is simple and eloquent. You are absolutely right, neighbors may be next door or on another continent, but if they treat what we all share with respect, then they are good neighbors.

Pam said...

Once again I got behind on my blogging. This is a very timely post as, it seems to me, so many have turned to rudeness in dealing with neighbors, shoppers, drivers and the like. There was never such a term as "road rage" and people used to smile and say hello as they passed each other on the street. And neighbors kept an eye out for each other rather than raiding gardens, blasting music or letting their children run wild.

thailandchani said...

Flutter, thanks for letting me know. I have days like that, too. :)


SM, we had really good neighbors here for a long time, too. Prior to that, I never had neighbor troubles since I lived in cottages on large lots or some other thing that was appropriately isolating.

This neighborhood in particular might be "turning". There are things going on here that we wouldn't have thought possible five years ago.


Maypole, you have the point exactly! I'm not Tipper Gore and I'm not suggesting that contents should be controlled. At the same time, it's not right to assume that everyone within half a mile is going to share our taste. I'm sure the neighbors here would rather not hear blasting mor lum music, either.

And, yes, it has occurred to me that perhaps a little taste of their own medicine might not hurt.. but I won't.


Aliki, geez! That's a health issue! Were you able to get them to stop?


CM, Lord of the Flies.. exactly!


QT, your location sounds ideal! I would like to blast my very strange music, too, but understand I can't. It's just a reality of living around other people.

As for the plants and flowers, yes, they do often snarf flowers from the yard here. I wish the owner would install a gate.


Snos, thanks. :) I hope your move goes seamlessly.


Gwen, amen! That does seem to be the core ethic. Maybe I'm just getting old.. but it's rather tiring.


Mary, that's the whole thing! It IS learned behavior. This kind of stuff isn't sui generis. It doesn't come out of the ether. Somewhere people are getting the impression that it's okay.


Susan, "dehumanizing" is a good word!

As for the music, yes, it does seem hostile and angry... just bad energy all the way around.

I'm sure some would say my morlum sounds like a cat being dragged through a knothole in the fence.. but that's why I control the volume!

No one else should *have* to like it!

And your neighbor needs to be educated about those shoes!


Next template :)


thailandchani said...

Wayfarer, yes.. I know what you mean. While driving through the rural south, I saw some amazing things! LOL


Mitzh, so do mine. Unfortunately, they want the rest of the neighborhood to be a part of their lives. :)


Emily, thanks. :) I do think it spreads out that way.. kind of a logical chain of events.


Pam, it's like some kind of mass psychosis. At times it really does feel that way.




Julie Pippert said...

First, thanks for the endorsement.

Second, I think your linear philosophy of "charity and respect begin at home" is fairly spot on. I'd say backing it up one step is true too: how we treat ourselves is where it begins.

Here's another flip side I think people often miss: I expect my children to treat me with respect and I lovingly let them know the effect their utterly normal yet self-centered behavior can have. By the same token, I can tell when they begin treating me with disrespect that I have fallen into a pattern of dishing that out to them. I expect myself as mom to treat them respectfully, too.

Respect, BTW, does not per se equal nice which also does not per se equal doormat.

Third, it is my personal philosophy that noise is a cry for attention. When someone plays demented music loudly, I take it as a cry for someone to understand how they feel inside.

Of course, that doesn't mean that's *my* job necessarily or that I have to be assaulted by their turmoil via too loud and obnoxious music.

Unfortunately, by the time we are all's a space issue.

Listen to your children, my friends. Listen closely.

Cecilieaux said...

In your reply to my comment you wrote "Passive-aggression seems to be a defense against a social custom that demands a certain *type* of conversation over another."

To what type of conversation are you referring? What social custom? What if passive-aggression does not arise in the middle of a conversation?

thailandchani said...

Julie, I can see what you're saying. It would be interesting at some point to examine how the emphasis on "self" is contributing to the other problems though. I'm not saying that we shouldn't respect ourselves.. only that it doesn't need to encroach on others. At what point do others come first?


Cecileaux, I am referring to common social conversations which are supposed to have a Hollywood happy ending. That is also the social custom I mean. The social customs in many cultures don't allow much for expression of negative feelings. P-A comes in when people begin to resent the fact that everything has to have a shiny happy face.. when sometimes it just doesn't.

If passive-aggression doesn't come into the conversation, then it's not an issue. :)



Cecilieaux said...

You didn't understand the question about not being in conversation. What if the P-A occurs, but not in the context of a conversation?

thailandchani said...

I would say that there are two ways to go on it: Depending on the importance of the relationship, one can explore to find out the real issue ~ and, barring that, walk away from it. :)



Cecilieaux said...

Isn't walking away passive aggressive?

thailandchani said...

C, it can be. It depends on the person. It can be manipulative (hoping you'll chase) or it can be my way.. which is simply that I'm done.

I'm a bit different than some, maybe. My tolerance for games is very, very low. I do the best I can to get to the root issues, discuss them and find peace.. but barring that, my palms go up, I say "I'm done" and it's over.