Music and the Spoken Word

Good Neighbors - Sunday, August 26, 2018



“Good fences make good neighbours,” remarks the surly neighbor in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.” Boundaries and borders, categories and classes seem to be an inescapable part of today’s world. We build fences to keep some things in and other things out—often with mixed results. Fences, both figurative and literal, can help and hurt, protect and hinder.

So what does make good neighbors? In geopolitics or international relations, that may be a complicated question. But when we’re talking about people and neighborhoods, perhaps it’s a bit simpler.

It’s been said that the kind of neighbor we are reveals a lot about what kind of people we are. If we can be compassionate, generous, and trustworthy toward the people next door, even if they’re different from us, then we’re more likely to be that way with others we meet. Are we friendly and welcoming? Are we open to new people and big-hearted in our interactions? Are we respectful and tolerant of other people—their property, reputations, and personalities? Are we the kind of neighbors we would like to have?

Years ago two families moved into two different neighborhoods in the same city. One family was welcomed warmly, with hellos, handshakes, and friendly visits. The other family felt unnoticed and unwelcomed, with hardly a greeting from anyone. People seemed to talk about them instead of with them. Some might argue that the newcomers have a responsibility to reach out and introduce themselves to people in the neighborhood. Surely neighborliness is a shared responsibility. But let us never forget what it feels like to be the new person, to worry that you won’t fit in, to wonder if people will accept you.

It’s not easy to move into a new and unfamiliar neighborhood, just as it’s not easy to step out of our comfort zone and befriend people we don’t know. But that’s the first step toward being good neighbors. And if fences are still needed, perhaps they can be the kind with gates and welcoming walkways that allow for positive and friendly interactions. After all, in reality it’s good people—not good fences—that make good neighbors.
“Good fences make good neighbours,” remarks the surly neighbor in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.” Boundaries and borders, categories and classes seem to be an inescapable part of today’s world. We build fences to keep some things in and other things out—often with mixed results. Fences, both figurative and literal, can help and hurt, protect and hinder.

So what does make good neighbors? In geopolitics or international relations, that may be a complicated question. But when we’re talking about people and neighborhoods, perhaps it’s a bit simpler.

It’s been said that the kind of neighbor we are reveals a lot about what kind of people we are. If we can be compassionate, generous, and trustworthy toward the people next door, even if they’re different from us, then we’re more likely to be that way with others we meet. Are we friendly and welcoming? Are we open to new people and big-hearted in our interactions? Are we respectful and tolerant of other people—their property, reputations, and personalities? Are we the kind of neighbors we would like to have?

Years ago two families moved into two different neighborhoods in the same city. One family was welcomed warmly, with hellos, handshakes, and friendly visits. The other family felt unnoticed and unwelcomed, with hardly a greeting from anyone. People seemed to talk about them instead of with them. Some might argue that the newcomers have a responsibility to reach out and introduce themselves to people in the neighborhood. Surely neighborliness is a shared responsibility. But let us never forget what it feels like to be the new person, to worry that you won’t fit in, to wonder if people will accept you.

It’s not easy to move into a new and unfamiliar neighborhood, just as it’s not easy to step out of our comfort zone and befriend people we don’t know. But that’s the first step toward being good neighbors. And if fences are still needed, perhaps they can be the kind with gates and welcoming walkways that allow for positive and friendly interactions. After all, in reality it’s good people—not good fences—that make good neighbors.
1 In North of Boston (1915), 12.
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August 26, 2018
Broadcast Number 4,641

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Bells on Temple Square

Conductor
Mack Wilberg

Bells Conductor
LeAnna Willmore

Organist
Bonnie Goodliffe

Host
Lloyd Newell


How Firm a Foundation
J. Ellis; arr. Mack Wilberg

He Shall Feed His Flock
John Ness Beck

Trumpet Tune in C
Alice Jordan

Prelude from Holberg’s Time
Edvard Grieg; arr. Douglas J. Benton

Tree of Life
Mack Wilberg

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
African American spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg