My son and a neighbor kid got into some trouble last Spring.  A minor property crime against the local grange– a stupid, boyish stunt.  That’s the first big mistake in this series.

John Law got involved and came down HARD on the two kids.  Really serious shit, as if they were career, hard-core gang leaders or something.  Second big mistake.  No one’s really responsible either– things go largely according to a pre-ordained plan in a largely manditory system.  I would have thought this could be settled better, more efficiently and with more focus on restitution and correction, by neighbors talking to neighbors, but John Law has to get his piece of the action or he feels all left out and stuff.  Instead, my first news of this came after the kids had been arrested.  Watching the excitement on Hawaii 5-O and hardly ever even getting to slap the cuffs on some kids in a small town can be a bitch I guess.  Maybe we’re all bitches now.  Some people seem to think so, or wish it were so.

Fast-forward several months.  My son’s “partner in crime” from last Spring was found dead this Saturday morning.  Someone spotted his body near a bridge a few blocks away and made an anonymous call (who does that?) to 911.  I still don’t know the cause of death and it would be irresponsible to speculate.  All we know right now is; it has been reported that foul play is not suspected.

While making a huge pot of soup from our garden vegetables, duck eggs and yearling elk heart (which is tender and wonderful– thank you, Chris) this weekend, I thought back to 1977 which is when my sister and niece were killed.  Some of our neighbors brought over prepared food for us, and it was very well received.  It’s so simple, yet it makes a lot of sense.  When you’re tragedy-struck, you probably have less, or no, appetite and you sure don’t want to fix meals or go shopping when you have all the aftermath to deal with, and the grief.  But you have to eat, so I thought of bringing the parents and surviving son some of the soup and some other things this last Sunday.

Then the doubt kicked in.  Third big mistake.  “I don’t even really know these people, and for all I know they might hate the very idea of elk heart (Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies offering ‘possum-n-grits, chicken fried skunk, or some such, comes to mind), they might be offended, or maybe they’d blame my son for what happened or something.  Maybe they don’t eat meat or these other things.”  All this stupid, inane garbage prevented me from going down there straight away.  The wife was out of town at a rehearsal, the kids need to stay on their homework—all the regular stuff adds up too.

An offer of help can always be refused, but at least you’re giving them the option and asking nothing, which is the whole point.  Isn’t it?  I’ve gone stupid and wobbly in my old age.  Yakkity yacking more and doing less, maybe.

A few days later I finally got around to going over there with some home-made sweet cider and some fresh duck eggs.  The grandmother answered the door, and I spoke to her and the mother.  They were extremely gracious, appreciative and talkative, almost fawning, but that’s not the point.  I’d decided in advance that if they slammed the door in my face I’d be OK with that.  They informed me that the kids’ father is now in the hospital in intensive care for, among other things, not eating. (sigh)

If you think someone might need a little gesture of help, and even if you think your offer is dumb, maybe you should just offer the damn help.  Git ‘er done.  But I’m not finished here;

A community social network of some kind can be a precious thing, and whether you’re an atheist, agnostic, or haven’t thought much about it, your local church organizations can and do offer that sort of network.  So long as they don’t go all hell-fire and brimstone on people, they are potentially a great value to society.  I’ve harshly questioned organized religion, and I think with good reason.  Some of them are downright evil, some have fallen in with the Tides Foundation or other global leftist organizations, but the argument isn’t all one-sided.

Time was when churches, the Rotary Club, Elks, Moose Lodge, Eagles, Granges and so on were THE centers of local community action.  Now it’s a coercive, increasingly centralized government in concert with what can only be described as communist agitators and punks (such that now even the very term “community action” connotes leftist agitation).  Which would you rather?


5 thoughts on “Neighbors

  1. I completely understand what you are saying. I much prefer talking to my neighbors and they talking to me about problems. Yet, to often, they would rather go through the government rather than speaking openly and honestly with their neighbors. It is really sad

  2. If it were my boy under the bridge, I would be counting coup. I decided that a long time ago, and I don’t even have kids. Prosecutorial discretion is there for a reason.

    If our society is going to remain a society, then we need to remember that that it’s great when the law and justice coincide, but as often as not, they don’t.

    Justice carries a sword.

  3. Interesting post.

    I was just thinking about religion recently. As you know, I’m a moderate liberal. I’m also agnostic but I was raised Catholic. I spent most of my early years in school at various schools in coastal California. Some were Catholic schools, some were not. I was then moved to a part of the country that is conservative and religious. I say this because many of my ex-classmates are on Facebook and 90% of them are fans of Sarah Palin, Jesus, Governor Brewer, or other conservative things, usually in combination.

    I started thinking about how I became agnostic and I realized that it happened when I moved to the conservative part of the country. So many of the religious people were total hypocrits. They spoke about “loving your neighbor” but then did hideous things to their neighbors. They didn’t live the lives they preached.

    I lost faith in religion.

    Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. I don’t know most of my neighbors. I have neighbors I have never met but because my desk faces their front door (across the street), I know when they come and go and I know who belongs there. We have no community social network. We live in the city and we are basically observers of each others lives. If one of my neighbor’s kids died, I probably wouldn’t figure it out for months, if then.

    It would be fabulous to have a community center but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. So, like everyone else, I’ll rely on government.

  4. ubu; The hypocrite meme has been around since the dawn of time. Be careful in applying it. It can cut multiple ways. No one is perfect, yet none the less there are ideals to which we may aspire.

    As for the community center idea; a true community need not have special real estate or special buildings in which to hold events, but even those were built by regular citizens, like you, using their very own money, long before Marx. Same goes with churches. Some of the nicest buildings that survive in my town were built circa 1900 with zero tax dollars, by regular Joe Shmoe who got together with like minded people. So what’s the difference? It’s a difference of will (motivation) only. Where government moves in, charity and private initiative are slowly (or not so slowly) frozen out. We can change that, I think.

  5. Good on you for helping your neighbors. Before there were churches there were neighbors. When my Mom died in ’95 and when Dad passed in ’02, both times the neighbors brought covered dishes, chatted a few minutes and left us to our grief. Night after night this went on, they were and are wonderful people that understand what being a good neighbor is all about and Ubu, it has nothing to do with relying on government. Wave, smile, talk; they work wonders. And always underestimate the grace and compassion of people, let it be a joy when they surprise you.

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