“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a neighborly day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” Ok, so I never really watched Mr. Rogers as a child, but it never stopped me from learning the song. I was always particularly interested in the question, “would you be mine?” (a neighbor that is) because really, how would someone know that they even wanted to be my neighbor? Perhaps they’re unsure of what it takes to be a neighborly neighbor? Is it as simple as lending me sugar or collecting my newspaper when I’m away, or might I ask them to perform simple tasks in a more complicated context, such as making a phone call when they suspect child abuse or hear gunshots on their front lawn?
On February 3, 2009, neighbors in Temple Hills, MD, heard approximately 8 gunshots around 8:00 p.m. No one looked outside and no one called the police. What no one knew is that a 16-year-old boy lay shot in one of his neighbor’s yards. In fact, no one found this out until the police received its first phone call at 7:00 a.m. and arrived to turn over his lifeless body.
In this case, it may be easy to try and place blame on individuals in the neighborhood. But the truth is how often have we heard the sounds of violence next door and thought to “mind our own business”? How many neighborhoods have become deaf to the sound of gunshots because they hear them so often? Nowadays we can’t just live in our neighborhoods, we must actively serve them. Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch program or even a simple neighborhood phone tree that allows each of your families to be accounted for in the event you become aware of violence or an emergency. It doesn’t take a lot to be a good neighbor – you only need to care and want to be one.