Who is my neighbour?

do not smile at strangersWhilst on my summer holiday (France in case you’re wondering) I was chatting with some people who live in the English countryside. They had noticed that when in London, on trains, tubes and buses, people don’t talk to each other and worse, have headphones which are a further barrier to interacting with other people. In the countryside they said people talk to each other more. How do people travel around in the countryside I asked. In cars, by themselves I was told, which made me think, imagining the country folk on their own in their own little space with the car stereo on.

Living in the city is a very communal way of living. Due to so many people living in a small space, we are forced to interact with many more people than we might otherwise, even if it is in a somewhat anonymous manner. Even in the city people look out for and help strangers. Witness the mum with a buggy getting off a train and someone will be helping, or the street cleaner offering help to two old ladies who were lost in central London, or an elderly man having collapsed on the pavement being helped by passers by, or the verbal solidarity of passengers stuck on a train or on a platform waiting for a train which doesn’t seem to be coming.

In a society where more than a quarter of people don’t know the names of their next door neighbours (http://bit.ly/18g2IWj) and more who don’t trust them, I’d like to think we would still be friendly towards and help our ’neighbour’ which in one sense is everyone and especially those whom we encounter who are in need of our help.

As we go about our daily lives, may we keep our eyes open for those who could do with a little help. Who are you going to help today?