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How Can I Be Happy – Community

When seeking happiness sometimes it’s good to look at what not to do. A recent story jumps out in regards to a neighborhood community – or lack thereof – that shows that without a community spirit, the journey of life gets pretty dull.

True story…

Neighbor “A” installed a giant fence around their yard 18 inches back from the property line. They mulched the outer 18 inch section all the way around. None of this is a big deal unless the other neighbors on the side (neighbor C) and the back (neighbor B) didn’t want to install a fence.

Why did neighbor “A” do this? Why did they follow the letter of the zoning laws? It really ticked off both neighbor “B” and “C.” Neighbor “A” seemed quite the jerk.

But they’re not. Here’s the back story. There’s always a back story.

The day neighbor “A” moved in (long ago), previous neighbor “B” marched right over and told them their “old”  fence was on his property. And he wasn’t very nice about it. Thus neighbor “A” had good cause to keep their fence back a few extra inches.

Previous neighbor “B” eventually sold his home and moved away after his wife died. The neighbors were not aware his wife was dying of cancer. This likely made him a bit edgy at times.

The new neighbor “B” was nice enough, but wasn’t sure how long they were staying. So, to be safe, neighbor “A” ripped down the old fence and put up a new one 18 inches back so as not to disturb future neighbor “B.”

However, neighbor “A” didn’t realize that the reason new neighbor “B” wasn’t sure if they were staying was because baby number two was on the way. Also, since neighbor “A” didn’t have kids, she didn’t know every single mom on the planet anxiously thinks they’re going to outgrow their home.

Now, poor neighbor “C” whose home is next to neighbor “A” wants to put up a fence. But he can’t abut to neighbor “A’s” fence without cutting off a large 18 inch stretch of “A’s” property.

Here’s what’s interesting. Neighbor “A” originally did want to talk with “B” and “C,” but was conflicted. “B” was moving anyway, right? Wrong. “B” was not moving, and “C” would have been perfectly fine if they had run right down the property line. In fact, “C” would have helped pay for the very expensive fence had there been a discussion – a community chat.

This convoluted scenario plays itself out repeatedly in our lives because we lack community and trust and connectedness. It shows the clear effects of our disconnect from one another.

This could have easily been worked out. They could have supported previous neighbor “B” during his very trying times with his sick wife. Had they known new neighbor “B” was an anxious mom-to-be they could have made better judgements, as well as celebrated the new baby. They could have all been in community – helping, supporting, and loving one another.

They didn’t and they’re still not.

To be happy, we need community. God made it that way. Life sucks without it. Sometime it’s hard to notice. We’re expected to keep our distance – to keep to ourselves – to stay inside our property lines.

I call bull.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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