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The Value Of Neighborliness

Leslie Fain, a freelance writer who reads this blog, has published a piece [1] about The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming [2] and the meaning of neighborliness. In it, she talks to both me and to Jon Cogburn, a philosophy professor at LSU and a fan of the book. Excerpt:

Dreher said he thinks the first step in creating community is realizing we actually need other people, and they need us.

“We tend to think of the community like a public utility: It’s always going to be there. But that’s not true,” said Dreher. “You get out of it what you put into it.

“Helping to start a new church in my own town has taught me how much I’ve always taken church for granted and always depended on somebody else to do the heavy lifting of community,” he said.

Dreher added he has also gotten involved in local government.

“I had been entirely disengaged from matters of local government, but got drawn in when I heard that the parish council was working to overturn an election we had just months ago,” said Dreher. “When I started going to the meetings, I was appalled by how poorly we are governed. Others here are waking up the same way I’ve awakened. The price we pay for our passivity and apathy is great.”

“I think we build community by finding manageable projects that we do with people we love,” said Cogburn. “If you are lucky enough to have a loving family and faith community, this is much easier. Some of Ruthie’s deepest attachments were from her students and fellow teachers. So the same love, the same little way that can make a family or faith community great can, I hope, help turn any group of people into a community.”

Read the whole thing. [3]Thanks to Leslie and Jon for their kind attention to my book.

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2 Comments To "The Value Of Neighborliness"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 7, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

We need an antidote for sure. So much is based on trying to evade responsibility to and for others. “Love thy neighbor,” when it is not being so abused as to find ways to define others out of being one’s neighbor, is mostly in the materialist cult that prevails, “Beggar thy neighbor.”

Preemptively, realizing our lawyerly proclivity for evasion, Jesus said, “Love your enemy,” covering all exits from morality.

#2 Comment By Sam Leo On August 9, 2013 @ 11:06 am

This way of thinking about our absolute need for the people around us is an answer to the constant conservative harping about “dependency” too. Everyone is dependent, it’s only when we forget that that we become truly lost, and what conservatives call dependency is actually the forgetting of that fact. (Yuval Levin wrote beautifully about this not long ago, [4], but I don’t think this strand of conservatism is listened to much anymore on the right.)