Loving your neighbour?
Love thy neighbour, makes for good slogan and a nice sentiment, though in practice when people talk about their own neighbours they often seems to be a heavy burden and cause of distress to them, and that is if someone even knows their neighbours in the first place. Which seems to be an ever decreasing number of people, it is unsurprising in a world of dual income households where working 60 hours a week is common, the commute starts before dawn and finishes after dusk, and what free time you do have is spent in coffee shops, restaurants and shopping. Communities and neighbourhoods needs people who spend the majority of their lives physically within the area that they actually live, serendipity needs presence to flourish.
For communities to thrive, we need both those people with the time and energy to interact with each other, and the critical mass of these people. That is why counter intuitively areas that have high-density housing tend to score highly with life satisfaction, people think they want an acre of land surrounding their detached house, when the thing that really makes them happy is the daily interactions with people around them. It is forming these relationships that make up for the annoyances of close neighbours. Even if it is as simple as nodding good morning to a regular dog walker on the way to your morning cup of coffee and perusing of the newspaper. High-density housing allows the little shops that delight us to thrive, each shop needs 5000 people within a kilometre and they simply cannot survive in the suburbs.
Jacob from early retirement extreme, describes how when selecting your home, you should aim to be within a 30 minute bike ride (or ideally walk) of the place where you work, shop for food and socialise. As this makes up almost all of your journeys, and where this is most possible is in areas of high density housing, not only does this reduce your transport costs to nearly zero which is normally the second highest cost that most people face in their lives, it also means that you waste less time, in travelling from here to there. If you currently spend more than an hour travelling each way to work, cutting that commute down is effectively a 20% pay rise as your pay per hour has increased if you include travelling as work, which I certainly do and it is a massive increase in quality of lifestyle.
I certainly hope when universal basic income is introduced, that making such choices will be easier, though often if you look at the map you can often find a perfect location spatially wise at an affordable price if you are willing to compromise on space. You do not need a perfect street or frontage, you need a perfect area on your doorstep and you will probably be surprised that everyone knows each other, just because they bump into each other more. When work is not the main driver of your location and does not dominate the whole of your life, the life situation where you live changes, and whilst the temptation might be to head to the hills. The lifestyle locations will become even more appealing, if you want the lifestyle of coffee shops, museums, lectures, learning, gigs and socialising, even without the high paying jobs, central London would still be an attractive place to be and you would pay for it by sacrificing, that is in the old-fashioned sense of the word of choosing, to have less space and after all you would be using it more like a hotel than a homestead.
When everyone realises and agrees that these communities are the better choice and start flocking towards the locations that foster the strongest community and most social lifestyles, though it might not suit everyone as such a lifestyle does require you to be respectful of differences and minding your own business, that is letting your neighbours be themselves, so that you can be you. It is often easier to love the idea of neighbours rather than the reality, it is said that the ultimate test of enlightenment is to spend the weekend with your family. It seems to be true that whenever we are in a rush we seem to meet the neighbour who wants to sit around and be negative for an hour, whilst when we have got all the time in a world in everyone else seems to be too busy. It is easy to see the negative side of others behaviours and actions, they seem personal where in fact often or almost always they are about someone else's issues and stuff. However what we are seeing in others is in fact what we see in ourselves, when we hit that kind of resistance, ask where did that come from and where is it going to, it is often easier and it certainly takes less energy to think the best of others.
If you ever witness your own mind, when it thinks that someone else is being rude, inconsiderate or angry, you will know a single act of unkindness can unleash a torrent of angry thoughts within you. Especially when you react with anger to the initial action that upset you, then the mind gets completely lost within the web of self recrimination and justification. If you have the awareness to compare the non-reactive response to when you have seen a red flag and are being angry, you will notice just how much time you lose and how much energy you spend on something that was so momentary. That is why defence is so powerful, if you can stop anger before it begins, use a tiny amount of energy to be kind in your initial thought, you can save hours of negative energy.
So that is why I believe in loving my neighbours, not their actions or their words, that's just the interplay of our egos, who have their little dramas and lines that do not like to be crossed. They believe in defending you with anger and massive overreaction which are just not necessary in a world where our neighbours no longer want to kill us. Instead by recognising that we are spiritual beings covered in layers of ego, we are able to recognise other people are the same, so instead of putting all our focus on trying to connect our egos, remember instead that wherever two people meet there is the potential the two souls to connect and the only thing getting in the way is the ego.