Living in a major city for the past eight years has given me a different perspective on neighbours than I had previously. When I lived in a rural area my neighbours were farther away yet known by name. We were aware of needs and helped one another.
My short street is lined with detached and semi-detached homes, but it takes considerable effort to have a conversation with the people who live inside them. It seems that many urbanites do not feel the need to form relationships with their neighbours. It could be that since people are so mobile it is not worth the effort to meet new people. I wonder if another factor is a sense of self-sufficiency--if I have a problem, I can use my phone, my car, and my money to fix it.
But I’ve also learned that this mentality is not true of everyone in a city. One family living nearby was going through a difficult time of unemployment and came to our door regularly for food items, gas money, bus tickets and the use of our telephone. About a month ago when a door had been left open in our van and the battery died one of our neighbours willingly gave us a boost. Cooperation when shoveling snow after a big storm is another way that I’ve recognized that we really do need our neighbours even in the city.
I don’t know which side of the “need” equation I will be on next, but by greeting the people along the street and making small talk I acknowledge their worth and standing in an anonymous suburb.