Soucheray: Open your doors to neighbors
Mr. Rogers really had something when he sang about wanting to be a good neighbor. He recognized the necessity of being welcoming, open and receptive to everyone who lived in "The Neighborhood," so that they felt like they belonged and were his friends. Are we doing the same thing here in Woodbury? Are we as welcoming and friendly to everyone who lives around us, or are there some neighbors that we intentionally, or unintentionally, exclude? If so, we know that can be the source of tension and discomfort for people who live in close proximity to us. So what can we do about this?
To begin, we must see that it is happening. It can be insidious and sneaky and we can easily become a part of excluding others when we have no intention of doing so. We must be aware that it is occurring and do all we can to address it.
Next, we have the opportunity to reach out and invite or welcome everyone in a hospitable manner to share in the fun that is happening at one home or another. We all know there will be times that we will host quieter, more subdued events that will only include a few people. And hopefully everyone will understand that. But to leave one or two families out of the fun on a regular basis does not build and encourage a happy neighborhood.
Finally, making sure all neighbors feel welcome is everyone's responsibility, from the youngest to the oldest. If we do not teach our children how to be hospitable and welcoming of everyone, they may learn that exclusion is acceptable when formulating their own communities. And we certainly don't want that, as this attitude carries over to school, sports teams and work, where bullying and meanness cannot be tolerated.
So it really does begin at home, where our fundamental values are taught. Let us ask ourselves this week if we are teaching our children to extend hospitality to everyone and making sure everyone is included in the fun.
In about two weeks on Tuesday evening, Aug. 6, we celebrate National Night Out as an opportunity to welcome and include everyone in our neighborhoods. The optimum is for a group of neighbors to join together and organize a picnic for that evening, in which everyone contributes a certain dollar amount or brings a dish to pass. Then we gather to talk and celebrate being neighbors. We make it an evening to connect with those who live next door or across the street who will go into hibernation in only a few months as we bring back the old-fashioned values of welcoming everyone in "The Neighborhood."
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist