EDITORIAL: Who is your neighbor?

You never know what’s going on right next door.

Everyday people in our community fall through the cracks.

Everyday we barely notice.

Someone is cold with no warm clothes to wear.

Someone has electricity cut off during the coldest month of the year.

Someone is living without running water.

Someone goes hungry.

Someone loses their home.

It happens every day.

While we would never think of ourselves as a third-world country, people in our own community live in third-world conditions right next door.

We are cynical.

We are jaded.

We are concerned for own safety.

We are concerned for our own relative wealth.

We are shocked when the harsh reality of poverty is exposed in own neighborhoods.

We would rather just not know.

It is easier to pretend it does not exist here.

We prefer to see ourselves as compassionate, generous and giving.

More often than not, what we see, even in ourselves, depends on where and how we focus.

Focusing on the needs of others does not always come naturally.

The stark reality of death often causes us to pause, to be a bit more introspective and think about life itself.

Susan Stover’s body was found in a shed behind a home on Twin Oaks Drive in Jonesboro, behind the house she had once called home.

Inside the shed was a makeshift bed, a chair, dishes and clothing, where she obviously lived in a way most of us cannot imagine.

Regardless of the actual cause of death, it should give us all pause and bring us to the question, “What is the plight of my neighbor?”

And perhaps even more we should ask, “Who is my neighbor?”

The question must must go beyond merely being the topic of a Sunday morning sermon.

Being a good Samaritan goes way beyond money thrown in a collection plate or donated to a nonprofit agency.

While those things may be necessary, being a neighbor, even to those who do not live right next door, is much more about paying attention than paying tithes.

If our neighbors in life knew were watching, and caring, perhaps they would feel secure enough to reach out in their time of need.

A man who is cold may not need a dollar nearly as much as he could use our spare coat.

A family who is hungry could use the unopened cans in the back of our pantry more than the change in our pockets.

A person who is lonely would most likely rather have our words than all of our goods.

Perhaps before we can truly think about others, and who our neighbors are, we must first take a hard look at who we are.

— Editor Jim Zachary