Be a good neighbor

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Farm Forum

What does it mean to be a good neighbor?

Does a good neighbor help you with snow removal during winter or do they bring over cookies during the holiday season? Or, does being a good neighbor take on an even bigger meaning — that of kindness and generosity?

You have probably heard the expression “treat your neighbor the way you want to be treated.” I am fortunate to have had, and continue to have, many good neighbors.

Growing up on a farm in Northwest Iowa, my family had great neighbors. We were especially close to the neighbors who lived about one-half mile away from us. We always looked forward to our visits with Don and Norma. Unfortunately, Don’s health issues necessitated a move to New Mexico. Don was a combat veteran who had lingering medical problems because of his service as a U.S. Marine in World War II on the island of Guadalcanal. He never talked about his service, but I remember being very impressed by his collection of souvenir Japanese swords. I credit Don and Norma with sparking my interest in the hobby of rock collecting. Those are some fond memories.

Today, my own family is fortunate to have many good neighbors. In fact, that is one of the reasons we really love the community of Aberdeen. All of our neighbors are good people, friendly and helpful. Some of our neighbors help with snow removal, some bring over zucchini bread, and we all generally look out for one another.

But one next-door neighbor is quite a remarkable person. I don’t know him as well as I would like, but every time I see him, which is almost daily, he waves to me and has some kind words to say.

One of our most recent visits centered on where each of us grew up. We discovered that both of us grew up on a farm and, because of that farming background, we were used to hard work. He told me that he grew up during the Depression and, as one might imagine, times were really tough. I’m sure this has something to do with the other remarkable thing I have noticed about my neighbor: He goes to work every single day of the week. Most days, he works more than eight hours a day. That in itself is noteworthy, but it is down right extraordinary when you consider that my neighbor is 92 years old.

I continue to marvel at his enduring enthusiasm and positive attitude.

My neighbor is a role model for “treating others as you wish to be treated.” Though I live next door, many people in Aberdeen and its surrounding communities know my neighbor much better than I do. You might even see him on television as the pastor of the “Christian Worship Hour.” You may have guessed that my extraordinary neighbor is Pastor Dr. Harold Salem.

I want to say thank you to all of my neighbors, for being tremendously helpful and kind.

Alan L. Neville is a professor of education at Northern State University. The views are his and do not represent NSU.