I couldn't have a better neighbor

"This was so much better than resorting to force to get my neighbor to clean up his property."

The topic of a recent talk show was "The unsightly view of your neighbor's property, and how to force him to clean up his mess!" Under discussion were agencies to contact and new laws that could be written to help people bring legal action against their neighbors. But this discussion raised a larger question for me: is forcing a neighbor to comply with our wishes the only way to resolve a situation?

There was a time when the view from our window included an overgrown laurel hedge laced with unpruned rose bushes and thorny blackberry vines, all overhanging our property. We pruned our side, but the hedge was still an annoyance. We planted shade-loving ferns and decided simply to coexist with people we never spoke to or saw.

In time I recognized that silently going along with an imposition was not a solution. It was having a negative impact on my peace of mind and on what should have been a harmonious relationship. Here's what I did. I decided to learn to behold my neighbor as God's image and likeness, the way the Bible says that God made man. Then I realized I needed to distinguish between God's man, who reflects the nature of his creator and is invariably lovable, and the human being I had labeled as annoying, irritating, and irresponsible.

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June 22, 1998

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