Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Economic Crisis Hits Home

I have some neighbors that I haven't met yet. Well, I have lots of them. But, there are these neighbors that live near me that I'd sort of like to meet. They intrigue me.

Their yard is in shambles. It's a mess. It looks awful. The grass is not mowed. There is a trailer in the front yard. The kids draw all over the utility box. The place is trashed. Their latest addition is a ceramic owl that has been placed on top of the utility box.

The rest of the yards in the neighborhood look nice.

I've been wondering- How do you let your yard go like that?

Another neighbor told me this week that the neighbors in that house are "good people." It's a sad situation. They are trying to make their house look bad. They are not paying their house payment any more and they figure that if the house looks awful, it will take longer for the bank to want to take it over.

I cannot imagine deciding to go that route. I wonder if it will work and I wonder how bad the place will get.

And then I think, these people are hurting. I hope I can be a friend to them.
I hope I can let go of my disdain. I hope when I meet them I can see them for who they are and not what they are struggling with. Their baggage does not define them.

Forget the statistics, the for sale signs, the posted foreclosure notices on empty houses, this is where the economy crisis is real. This is evidence of pain.

I hope I can be a good neighbor.


samantha said...

This breaks my heart. I keep counting my blessings that we are still doing ok and that I'm STILL at home with my kids. You should go over and meet them. I'm sure you will put a spark of faith back into their life!

Cinderella11pm said...

"Responssible people" make their mortgage payments.

"Responsible people" don't
let their home and yard go to shambles so that MAYBE the bank won't take it over and they can continue to live there for free.

"Responsible people" don't take on a mortgage that they cannot afford.

"Responsilbe people' don't ASSUME the value of their home will go up and so even when their mortgage becomes an adjustable, they will be able to handle it.

"Respsonsible people" make effective choices, and think ahead as to possible options and consequences.

"Responsible people' will live in a condo or an apartment if they cannot afford the down payment on a home, or the monthly payments would be more than 20% of their net income.

"Responsible people" do not drag the property value of an entire street down by not taking care of their own property.

Responsible people go through an economic crisis too. They have just been responsible throughout, and lived within their means.

If one spouse has lost a job, they cut back on what before then was discretionary expenses.

They get part-time jobs until a full time job becomes available that they have interviewed for.

They do not have children - or
more children because 'they want them' when they cannot afford to shelter, feed, clothe and educate them for 18 years.

I am sure that these people are in emotional pain. Their choices led them there to a large degree.

While I can feel compassion for what they are facing, I feel no sympathy.

They could have made different choices then - and be making different choices now.

Their baggage does not define them - it explains them.

What is the definition of a "good" person?

Can you BE a good person when you are also being irresponsible and destructive?

Or are you simply a person - neither good nor bad - who is living with the result of all of your choices?

Jane Anne said...

Ah, Cinderella, you are giving fodder to my disdain... I struggle because I think many of the things that you mentioned. I've decided that I want to be caring despite the differences. I am certain that I would not handle the situation like they are but I want to look past the garbage and offer unconditional kindness. I don't sympathize. I just want to be caring despite it all. I don't know if they really are "good people" but I know that I want to be a good neighbor.

Please know- This is a struggle for me. I want to clean up the yard. I'd be happy to do it for them.

Cinderella11pm said...

Hi again Jane Anne.
You are being very kind and kindness matters.

That sort of thing you describe them doing in your post always gets me up on my soapbox.

I think home ownership is a priviledge and not a right.

The bank promises you that you can have a home in exchange for you making monthly payments.

They are a business. Not someone's Aunt Franny.

Promises should be kept.

It's a funny world when basic tentets of responsibility like that are ignored by so many.

And I've done what you are tempted to do - cleaned up someone's yard - all from my heart and on my own dime.

Weeded, took out old soil, put in healthy new soil, moved the shade plants into the shade, the sun plants into the sun, pruned and cultivated - and even bought a dozen azaleas for their side wall, several flats of double impatiens, and installed a new row of automatic sprinklers for them.

All because I wanted my next door neighbor to have a pretty garden because I thought it mattered, and who wouldn't want something that looked nice instead of a ragged dump?

And guess what? They let it all fall to ruin within six months becauase they didn't take care of it.

What I learned from that is people are content with the way things are.

No matter how much they complain, it is their comfort level to be indifferent to whatever the issue is.

So unless you are willing to be their permanent gardener and maybe even have them resent you for it out of embarrassment or defensiveness -- I'd think twice.

Kind is good.
Doing for someone else what they aren't willing to do for themselves doesn't motivate me anymore (unless it happens to be a dirty diaper, and babies get special exemptions:)

But again - Kind is good.
I just don't 'rescue' or get involved like that anymore in many cases.
I assist where I think it makes a difference to people who are doing everything they can to assist themselves.

We could be saying the same thing.

Cinderella said...

sorry that I was so crabby yesterday.
You were emphasizing being kind, and I was going off on a complaint rampage instead of just beign impressed by your intentions.