Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 3 — Being a Good Neighbor

Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 3 — Being a Good Neighbor

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 18, 2011

Discussion 3 – Being a Good Neighbor

For Tuesday, December 12, 1961

Objective: To show that we serve our Father in Heaven better and are happier, if we obey the commandment “… whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them …” (Mt. 7:12).

As we move beyond the home circle, close associates are our neighbors. The value of politeness to them cannot be overestimated, for this is the pattern for peace.

Can we expect world peace when we cannot maintain it in our own small world? As a strong body of spiritual women, we Relief Society sisters should live peaceably with those around us. We should be exemplary in all of our dealings with our neighbors for the sake of our own happiness, their enjoyment of associating with us, and for missionary possibilities. We will then be attempting to obey the great commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves. We should strive for thoughtful treatment of others, teamed with self-discipline, rather than keeping the rules for rules’ sake.

Politeness is to do and say
The kindest thing in the kindest way. – Anon.

With this little verse as our guide, we will consider areas where kindness might be put into use in our own neighborly relations. Is it kind to let misunderstandings run on from day to day, week to week, and year after year? Is it thoughtful to allow personal pride to stand in the way of seeking forgiveness? Whom does delayed forgiveness injure most? Do we care less for each other than we do for the dubious honor of being right? If we are right, then we can afford to be humbly right. If we are wrong, humility and love can make things right.

Is it either Christian or polite to go into our neighbor’s home to help in time of sickness and then criticize her housekeeping behind her back? Is it Christian or polite to ignore the newcomer at church, to neglect to say a word of appreciation to the teacher, the chairman of the banquet, the speaker of the meeting, when opportunity arises? Is it exemplary of our Heavenly Father’s teachings to criticize efforts of others, or to refuse to participate further in a program or activity when something isn’t done our way?

Things to Avoid

1. Criticizing or belittling in any way a neighbor’s beliefs (political or religious), her methods of cleaning, gardening, rearing her family, managing her money.

2. Giving advice on personal matters. Listen, sympathize, console, and, perhaps, suggest, but very cautiously, even when asked to do so.

3. Borrowing. When necessary to do so, be quick to return the article borrowed.

4. Walking in without being invited, no matter how friendly you may be.

5. Gossiping, even though there may be proof of the circumstance.

6. Breaking a confidence.

7. Allowing our pets to run in our neighbors’ yards.

8. Prying. If neighbors want us to know their financial or personal business, they will tell us voluntarily.

9. Inflicting our problems on our neighbors.

10. Doing anything unusual which would prove disturbing or unpleasant, such as building a trash fire when there are clothes drying on a line in the neighborhood; cutting the lawn with a noisy lawn mower in the early morning; entertaining outside until inconsiderately late at night; permitting trash to blow onto the neighbors’ property or otherwise become offensive to them; allowing our sprinklers to spray into cars, or house windows, or onto drying clothes.

Marks of a Good Neighbor

A good neighbor is extremely anxious to:

1. Visit a newcomer in the neighborhood. A friendly greeting of welcome and an invitation to allow us to help as needed with shopping facilities, etc., and an invitation to attend Relief Society with us are thoughtful actions.

2. Show loyalty to a neighbor. Support her in her efforts when it is possible. Offer assistance with baby tending, to watch the house and grounds during vacations, etc.

3. Instruct one’s children to respect other people’s yards and property.

4. Forgive and forget. Be willing to rectify errors, to show warmth and love increasingly, following difficulty or tension between you.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, let us strive to improve our relationships with our neighbors: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Let us harbor no grudges or resentments, plant no ill seed, spread no unhappiness, pray for our neighbor’s welfare and understanding, and also for strength and wisdom to do unto others as we would be done by.

Questions for Discussion

1. How did Christ define a good neighbor?
2. What are positive ways of being a good neighbor?
3. In what ways can we go the extra mile to be better than just a “good neighbor,” but a very special, lovable one?



  1. This is a great list – and probably even more difficult before the days of block walls and garage door openers.

    One question: I understand that these things apply to how we treat our neighbors, but do we have to apply them to their kids as well?

    Comment by MMM — May 18, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  2. Of course not. By all means, pump the kids for the dirt on their parents’ income and the family’s behind-closed-doors habits!

    I do like the way this series broadens “manners” to more than the dinner table and holding coats and doors. Future installments take the idea of “manners” even farther out into the community.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 18, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  3. Interesting how this post dovetails nicely with a discussion of “offense” on another blog. These steps are well crafted to avoid giving offense.

    Comment by Paul — May 18, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  4. Hmm.. I like this installment more than I thought I would. The days of burn barrels and clotheslines are long gone, but consideration for the neighbors and their lifestyle will always show class.

    Comment by Clark — May 18, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  5. Yeah, today she might have said something about not parking your behemoth motorhome on the street in front of someone else’s house or turning your car into a mobile boom box, but the principles are still the same.

    Maybe all neighborly manners could be reduced to “not causing offense” rather than “I can do it as long as it isn’t specifically illegal.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 18, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  6. Words to live by, thanks.

    Comment by Moniker Challenged — May 18, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

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