This sign graces the front yard of one of our neighbors up the street.
I’m no real estate sales expert, but I’m pretty sure this is not how you sell a house. But it IS how you send a message to the next door neighbor.
We’ve heard bits and pieces about the story behind the sign, but the more pressing question is this: What kind of anger must one have in order to post a sign in your yard like this? And furthermore, what kind of disregard for other’s opinions must you also have? Because its clear that the person who posted this sign cares nothing about any of the other neighbors either.
On one hand, I’d love to know the details of how they got to this point, but on the other hand, I’m pretty sure it would just sadden me.
Just imagine leaving your house every morning and returning every evening with this sign as your greeting; a reminder of how unwelcome and unwanted you are. A reminder of exactly how the neighbors feel about you. A reminder that no matter what, some people just want to get as far away from you as possible.
It’s the antonym of the kind of person I want to be. You meet me, and boom–you’re accepted. You shake my hand, and bingo–you’re a friend. Give me a hug and we’re practically family.
The sign also screams unforgiveness. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could imagine the exchange between these two families that leads them to walking out to the curb together, pulling the sign out of the ground, and setting fire to it in celebration of their reconciliation. Somehow, I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon.
Jeremy Bentham, an 18th c. philosopher once said, “It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual.”
We as a community are nothing more than a collection of individuals and families, right? And so it is that when one of our individuals/families is in turmoil, so are we all. I’m afraid that this sentiment has lost its place in the 21st c. American suburb. As I type this, I look up and out the window to see a mother riding her bike alongside of her two children. Another fit gentleman runs by, enjoying the sun and the warm air. A group of teens walk by laughing with each other. My neighborhood is a sweet slice of Americana.
Except that we all but ignore the house up the street that posted that sign. Because quite simply, it’s none of my business. That sign, representing that disagreement has nothing to do with me, except for the fact that its on my street and gives a foul taste of anyone who drives, bikes, or walks by and sees it.
Pope John Paul II said, “…A community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings. You, the people must git it this soul.”
So, in light of the sign, what is our neighborhood soul’s response? If, in fact, our neighborhood has a soul, has a sense, has intuition and initiative, what is our answer to the raging fire of animosity between our neighbors? I suppose it would be quite different if it were a literal fire than merely a relational fire.
I once heard that if a woman is under attack and the attacker were attempting to rape her, she should not yell, “Rape!” but should instead yell “Fire!”, because no one wants to see rape happen. But who doesn’t want to see a fire?!?