Be a decent neighbour

“Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it and those who do study history are doomed to scream futilely while locked in the trunk of the car the first group is driving.”

I don’t know who said it, it just came across my Twitter feed as a quote. I laughed because I could feel my feet pushing against the taillights. 

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I will try to speak to a current issue without resorting to historic examples of how easily things can get out of hand and how easily we can lose our freedoms; I would like to avoid being forever locked in the trunk, if I possibly can.

A few days ago, a local media outlet (not this one) shared an article on their social media feed that gave advice on which number to call to report your neighbours if they are exhibiting poor pandemic behavior. To give the outlet the benefit of the doubt, I think the intent of the article was to encourage people to use 311 instead of 911 to report neighbours they were spying at from behind the curtains. If the goal was to reduce the number of 911 calls for simple pandemic snitching, why not write an article about how anyone using 911 to report poor pandemic behavior may be charged? 

The headline for the follow-up article could be “Busy-Bodies Charged for Clogging Up 911.” 

The whole idea of reporting our neighbour for a pandemic infraction is bizarre. Report the same neighbours I might need to ask to let our dog out or in? The neighbours who might break a window to let the pets out when the house is burning? Or the neighbour who pushes the car out of the snowbank? Or the neighbour who ignores overgrown trees that drops leaves on their yard, the crumbling fence, the unkempt lawn? The neighbour who keeps an eye on neighbourhood kids and watches to make sure they are safe when they are home from school without a key and can’t get in their house? Or the neighbour who warns everyone about the creep living up the street? Or the addict neighbour who warns your teen not to trust his illicit drug source?  

Dr. Henry may be a super hero, but she has not yet evolved to the point that she can save us from everything. Until that happens, we need our neighbours.

None of us live pure, perfect lives. If any one of us had someone watch us 24/7, there would be all kinds of things to call us out on. Instead of pulling back the curtains to spy on our neighbours so that we can report them, let the curtain fall back. Each of us need to do what we think is best in our situation. If we can stay well and healthy, we can be prepared to help others when needed. The momentary rush of do-gooding is not worth damaging trust between neighbours.

A friend of mine said it very well: "We won’t be snitching on our neighbours! We trust that people are doing their best. We don’t always know the circumstances. I’d prefer to talk to them directly if we had concerns. Reporting your neighbours is a great way to destroy any sense of community left in this bizarre world."

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