Maclean's recently featured a compelling summary of our rapidly-deteriorating communities titled "The End of Neighbours." The expertly-written piece by Brian Bethune is one of the better articles you'll read this year, and it gets at a key tragedy that is particularly convicting for a Christian conservative: We have forsaken our neighbors.
"For decades, Americans and Canadians have been steadily less likely to vote, to play bridge, to volunteer, to invite people over for dinner, to join parent-teacher groups or local organizations the way previous generations did—from the Rotary Club to bowling leagues. Family remains strong, possibly because, in the solo age, even very close relatives are not living under one roof. Between the mid-1990s and 2008, the percentage of Americans who reported eating at least once a month with relatives with whom they didn't live rose from 52 to 59. Over a longer period (1974 to 2008), the percentage who spent an evening socializing with neighbours tumbled from 44 to 31, while the percentage who never did so rose from 20 to 30. The evolving modern definition of a good neighbour is no longer someone who is part of your life, someone you chat with over the fence, a reliable shoulder in good times and bad, but someone who doesn't bother you, either in your enjoyment of your home or by threatening its property value."
Within days of reading this article I encountered two highly-personal, emotional essays written by men taxed by the same moral burden. Thabiti Anyabwile at The Gospel Coalition laments what he takes to be the impotence of the Christian conservative:
"But it should also be the good Samaritan religion, a religion of justified people who demonstrate their justification in practical acts of compassion for its beaten, robbed and left-for-dead ethnic-other neighbors. Do we see that from national evangelical ministries and leaders? No, we don't. Ours appears to be the religion of the Pharisee who asks, 'Who then is my neighbor?'"