“If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.”Proverbs 25:9-10
This is one of several proverbs related to neighbors, and all of them speak of being careful in our relationships with our neighbors.
I remember a professor in college making the statement that neighborhoods changed forever with one invention – the automatic garage door opener. People used to have to get out of their cars to open their garage and park inside, and often there would be a neighbor sitting on the front porch to say hello. People would make small talk, and get to know each other. Now, we just drive in, shut the door and go inside. How many of us truly know our neighbors anymore? How many of us have had trouble with a neighbor for one reason or another? I’ve heard horror stories as the pastor of a church, involving people’s disagreements with their neighbors. Short of moving, these problems are not going to go away. Can they somehow be resolved? Can we somehow open the lines of communication so we can talk sensibly with our neighbors about issues?
One of the key components of conflict management is the ability to separate people from issues. The goal is to be hard on issues, and soft on people. All too often, we confuse the two and are hard on both. The Proverbs remind us of the importance of honesty, openness, and connection with our neighbors. When we are able to see each other as people, not problems, we come one step closer to finding peace. What can you do today to help build a bridge, rather than a fence, between you and your neighbor?