Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

September 18, 2013

A tale of two neighborhoods…in living color

By Keith Kappes - Publisher

Sept. 18, 2013 — This is a tale of two neighborhoods and how being neighborly can be so different, depending on where you live and what you believe.

The first neighborhood is in the older part of a medium-sized city in a western state. The single-story homes were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s for blue collar families.

Like many older neighborhoods, the homes are close together.

Ownership has changed over the years as original residents died or moved on and the homes became rental properties.

The second neighborhood is on the outskirts of a smaller city in Kentucky where most homes are placed on larger pieces of property.

An assortment of subdivisions, the second neighborhood has a mixture of more spacious, even upscale, homes and a few “starter” homes for young families.

However, unlike the first neighborhood, the second one is not connected by sidewalks, those narrow, friendly thoroughfares where folks walk and talk with their neighbors.

The first neighborhood includes the home of a 90-year-old white man who lost his wife about a year ago.

His closest neighbors primarily are Hispanic families who have moved into the neighborhood over the last several years.

The old man often goes out of town to visit his children in other states, sometimes staying for weeks and months at a time.

During his absence, his neighbors of color keep watch over his home and challenge anyone who pulls into his driveway.

They mow and trim his lawn and manage the vegetable garden in his backyard which he shares with them. They gather his mail for safekeeping.

The man in the second neighborhood is a single black man who, as a military reservist, has been deployed three times to Iraq or Afghanistan. Practically all of his neighbors are white.

Currently, he is serving in another Middle East hot spot.

This younger man holds a master’s degree in computer science and works for an important public agency. Like the first man, he holds strong religious convictions.

His home and yard are immaculate when he is living there.

Although he is away from home in defense of our nation, only one person in his neighborhood has lifted a finger to maintain his property.

A co-worker and members of his church are doing what they can to help care for his yard and flower beds.

It is sad that just the one neighbor realizes that the passage in the Bible telling us to love our neighbors also means we should be color blind.