It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good Fences make Good Neighbours

As I look out my front door I am caught between two neighbours.
The one on my left is a retired couple who spend their days puttering and working their garden. The fence that separates me from them is straight and high. One day my neighbour asked me if I knew anything about plants. "No," I replied, "I wouldn't know a weed from a flower." He then pointed out several flourishing and quite disruptive weeds, so I cut them down and moved them into the compost.
The fence that borders the neighbours to my right is falling down and rotten. And in all the years we have lived here I have only exchanged words with them when the dog barks or they see my grandson doing something they don't like. A friend walked me home from church two weeks ago and looking to the left gave out a hearty, "kia ora" (the maori word for greeting). There was no response. He tried again. "Kia ora te whanau" (maori for hello the family). Again, there was no response. I stewed for a couple of days and after the woman of the house was stalking us again from the front yard, I told her to bugger off and mind her own business (actually it was a little more and a little worse). Next thing I know the husband came out and gave me a few choice words about how I had spoken to his wife. I asked him if he was prejudiced towards Maori? "Look into these eyes boy," he responded. He was doing what any husband would have done and I begged his pardon for what I had said. He turned away and told me to fuck off. The next day I wrote a short card and put it in their mail box asking for forgiveness for my behaviour... a week later there hasn't been a response.
I began thinking about the difference between good and evil, or Godlike behaviour compared to Satan's. I realised that what had come out of my mouth was indeed evil.
What separates these two solitudes - these two neighbours - these two behaviours, is a very simple thing: Satan does his best to cajole us into reacting, in kind, to his prompting. With God however, he meets adversity with forgiveness and love. Well the only thing to do is forget about the exchange and try and be a better neighbour... the forgiveness part may take awhile. But that's okay; the sun rises everyday and there is always tomorrow. Or I may have to build a bigger and higher fence, to give them no cause to see me or my family and friends.

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