Get to know your neighbours

If we have kids, we need to teach them that social responsibility is taking care of our neighbours.

Re: “Not everyone’s fit enough to shovel,” The Leader, Dec. 6.

As someone in the vanguard of letter writer Ms. Randle’s “baby boomers quickly catching up” with the aging population, I agree we should all eat nutritiously and exercise to remain healthy enough to be able to at least shovel snow well into our senior years.

However, sadly, it is her dark point about the disintegration of society that caught my eye.

What struck me most about Ms. Randle’s letter was the unfortunate fact that today we don’t even know our own neighbours.

Growing up in the early 1950s in Kitsilano, my older brother and I, from as young as age six, were responsible for clearing snow from the front and back porch and sidewalks of our family home. We would then proceed to the public sidewalk in front of our house.

But we did not stop there. We would continue next door to the Gorings’ – an elderly couple – and clear theirs. Then it was down the street to Mrs. Jenvey’s, and across the street to Mrs. Webster’s, both very elderly First World War widows.

We were not the only kids in the neighbourhood who did this automatically. Perhaps it was all the Scout training we had or the fact we knew our neighbours. None of us accepted money for volunteering – although on a really cold night we might take a fresh-baked cookie or a small cup of hot cocoa offered. And we did this as often as needed until the snows passed.

Ms. Randle’s letter suggests to me that we need to get to know our neighbours. Then, after doing our civic duty in front of our own property, do our duty for the elderly or disabled folk next door or down the block.

If we have kids we need to teach them that social responsibility is taking care of our neighbours. And with childhood obesity sky-rocketing in Canada, we need to instruct those kids to get outside into the fresh air for some exercise.

Now if only we can get the City of Surrey to enforce those business sidewalk-clearing bylaws. Perhaps the fine needs to be increased to pay for enforcement in these difficult budget-balancing times.

 

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