Growing up in an apartment building, we had a hallway that had four doors to four homes. My mother would always clean the entire hallway but for some reason our neighbors would only clean the small area between their own door and the hallway entrance. It would always puzzle and bother her why they only cleaned in front of their door. Did they think dust in other areas would not move? A few years later, when none of us had any heat in the winter, neighbors would gather together in one of the apartments to conserve firewood. After those days, somehow the hallway was also kept clean by everyone.
It is not uncommon to see entire neighborhoods full of foreclosed homes these days. Just a few days ago, I heard how a condominium association could not pay its bills because many units were empty under foreclosure proceedings. Towns with high foreclosures have similar issues of being unable to cover their expenses. Homeowners in such towns find themselves under greater burdens for town expenses and under heavy pressure of dramatically lower equity of their own homes. We have learned the lesson that when our neighbors become poor, we too become poor.
As we are witnessing right now, when consumers (that would be us and our neighbors) are unable to spend as much as we typically spend, companies that sell us stuff, sell less. When companies sell less, they need less workers and they invest in machines and equipments less; they also spend less. When companies spend less and we also spend less, there’s really no way to sell more than the year before. It’s all too obvious… When we do not sell more this year than last year, our economy doesn’t grow and we know that stock values increase when the economy and companies grow. As a result, we earn less money (remember inflation even if you get no pay cut), stock values decrease, we become more unemployed, and we spend even less. Bottom line, when our neighbors spend less, they become poor. When they become poor, we too become poor.
When our neighbors have no homes, we have more homeless people. When our neighbors have no money, we have more poor, unemployed people to help. When our neighbors are hurting, we are hurting. This is because we’re one and the same, all interconnected, affecting each others’ lives, hurting together, happy together. There are many examples of this starting from global warming (if we do not all cut our emissions, the results do not change) to local crime (if we do not all keep our neighborhoods safe, the results are unchanged).
America has a vibrant individualistic society with everyone in constant motion pursuing our happiness. As you chase your own dreams and fulfill your objectives, consider your neighbors and your community.