By Beth Clark • September 28, 2018
As Mister Rogers taught kids (and their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) everywhere, being a good neighbor—and having them—makes the world an infinitely better place for all of us. It matters.
So, "location, location, location" may be what sells real estate, but it means more when you have good neighbors. The kind you become friends or maybe even lifelong besties with and you genuinely watch out for each other, and your combined kids, and you know you can borrow a cup of gluten free flour (or vodka if it's that kind of day) when you're in the middle of making a pie for the block party and forgot to go to the store before you started. They trust you to collect their mail when they go on vacation and return the weed whacker you borrowed when you're done with it, you commiserate over the terrible twos and give each other potty-training tips, and everyone parks in their own driveway (or in front of their own house or in their own parking spot). You actually have fun when you get together.
Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana created National Good Neighbor Day in the early 1970s, and US President Jimmy Carter made it official in 1978 with Proclamation 4601: "As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love, and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our Nation, and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family. In recognition of the importance of fostering compassion and respect in ourselves for our neighbors, I call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities."
Going back to Mister Rogers for a moment, he was a good neighbor because he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness for all. He also happened to be a unique and enduring American icon and author who was fiercely devoted to childhood development and making the world a better place.
If you're one of the unlucky few who live next door to "that guy" or you have more of a Montague-Capulet thing going with your neighbor(s) than a Mertz-Ricardo one, try to remember that they're special too and let it go for the day, whatever "it" is. Unfortunately, some neighbors really do suck, so if yours is one, let #GoodNeighborDay inspire you to seek a solution, or at least a way to keep them out of your bubble...sans force. (Unless it's the Force; then you might be onto something.) Fortunately, there are guides on resolving disputes and restoring good neighbor relations available if you're not sure where to start.
(Because it's a popular author subject choice for grownups and kids alike.)
And hey, if you don't know your neighbors, what a perfect reason to invite them over!