Asking Americans to be better neighbors
Washington's debates could help rekindle empathy as a guiding principle of citizenship. But we each still need to do our part.
Americans aren’t such good neighbors anymore. Can we learn to do it better with encouragement from (of all places!) our political system?1
The kids whose family moved into a house down the hill are buzzing around on dirt bikes, and it’s driving my wife nuts. The noise carries through the windows of her office upstairs, disrupting her online teaching and her podcast recording, and distracting her when she’s writing. A lesser person than my wife would become, you know, grouchy.
To avert that impulse, she walked down the street to talk with the teenagers, and when that yielded no peace, she called their mom. It reminded me of how my own parents dealt with the conflicts that, no less when I was a kid than now, inevitably arise when people live near each other. Along Maywood Drive in our little Midwestern city, neighbors talked with each other to resolve their problems.
These days, though, we’re more likely to just stew in frustration and grow angry. No wonder, because for most of us, the peop…