I’ve lived here four and a half months, and said hello to exactly three neighbours. It’s amounted to a total time commitment of under 10 whole minutes. 600 seconds.
Earlier this week a news story broke about a house fire and the resulting fatalities. A single mother and two children living in a multi-family house died. The house is suspected to have been scraping under the radar of housing regulations, as most affordable housing does.
A neighbour was interviewed saying that he lived ‘nine-steps-away’, but had never met the family. Just nine steps.
And therein lies the problem. We no longer have a sense of community. We are no longer neighbourly. We no longer have the energy or resources to care for others. We no longer have the inclination to take the time to build relationships with other people. Our world is losing its humanity in the great race to keep the economic machine rolling.
Recently the raise in Ontario’s minimum wage has people divided over the benefits and drawbacks. Primarily the arguments are about the ability of businesses to ‘catch up’ and make profits. What is lacking in the conversation is what has been happening to the most vulnerable people in our communities for a very long time; decreased access to safe housing, health care, and the resulting social maladies. What is also lacking is a discussion regarding the ridiculous wealth acquired by those who say they cannot afford to pay a fair, living wage.
The short-sighted argue that by raising minimum wage, the vulnerable will become jobless, and their situation worse. And they’re right. Unchecked greed will make all of it worse. Protesting for and protecting the vulnerable can only create a stronger community. It’s what neighbours do. It creates community. It prevents bad things from getting worse.
The word neighbour seems to be going the way of the word chesterfield. Perhaps we’re unwittingly becoming more like our neighbours to the south than we’d like to think.