Know thy neighbor
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By Jerome Danner
Being in communion with those living in your neck of the woods should be more important than many of us make it out to be in the day in which we live. Whether we have thought about it or not, whether we care about it or not, it is actually quite essential to having a fulfilling life.
How many of us have ever heard of any individual with a fulfilled life that was completely alone? This is not to opine that the solitary life is not at all fulfilling in some ways. However, even the individual that is a recluse will typically need some contact, in some form, and at some point with their fellow human beings to find a complete joy in this life.
Even in writing this piece, I accept the difficulty that is found in trying to make living in community with others a reality. In these times, we seem to be far busier than at any time before. Many of us find that we lack energy to converse and mingle with our own family after work, let alone people who live next to us, whom we do not know.
Unfortunately, this not knowing others next to us can easily build to a lack of trust in them. How can you honestly trust someone whom you do not know? Maybe an anecdote will work best here. Recently, I heard a knock on my door and while I was heading in that direction, my wife nervously stated to me that it was a man. She obviously did not know who he was. I looked through the peephole and noticed that he seemed to be a man that was much bigger than me in size. I opened the door and he relayed to me a short story about his sister being in the hospital and asked me for a ride to pick up her car.
I wish I can say that I jumped at the chance to be a blessing to this brother. But that would be untrue. When he asked for the ride, I immediately hesitated. I thought to myself quickly whether it was a good idea or not. I decided to go ahead, since he also relayed that he was our neighbor from across the street. I told him later that I apologized for delaying answering him immediately because I am not that trusting of a person. Plus, the entire drive to the car that needed to be picked up, I kept thinking of ways to counter an attack that never came. He even was candid about some health issues that he had faced and there I was thinking of him trying to harm me.
It made me realize that it would have been so much better if we had known each other prior to that day. If we had built some kind of relationship with each other beforehand, then we would have been more at ease with each other's presence in such a confined space.
Even in the Holy Scriptures, in the twelfth chapter of Mark, we are reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves. We should ask ourselves: how does that look? What does it mean? Think about it: you usually love the person that you know well. You should be able to love yourself because you know yourself. You know your thoughts; you know your likes and dislikes. You obviously knowledgeable of what you are struggling with and what has caused you the deepest pain. Now, imagine getting to know those persons who reside in your community. Your knowledge of them can grow into understanding them, then it can blossom into loving them and loving others usually brings some kind of joy (if done right).
This is how a community becomes a support system for its inhabitants: neighbors gain knowledge of one another, grow to care for and understand one another, and ease into loving each other. Ah, the beauty of it!
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