What are your fences for? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:32



It is said that very often what leads to the break-up of a marriage is not disagreement between the spouses on fundamental things. More likely the wedge that drives apart a husband and wife will be differences over everyday picayune matters – the hygiene of one or the other; sticking to the budget; manner of dressing; style of talking; manners at the table and such things.

In a community where the residents come from different cultural backgrounds the irritants will not be differences in whether one is a socialist, a communist or   a democrat; whether one is for a controlled economy or free enterprise; whether one is in favor of the death penalty or not; whether one follows this religion or that one.

No, irritants in neighborly relations will more likely come from whether one household respects the need for quiet during the night; whether one family keeps their surroundings clean or full of trash; whether my neighbor parks his vehicle in the street so as to prevent me from getting through. These are minor matters but we can add other items and make  the list long and each item will wear down goodwill between and among neighbors.

It is good to remember this as the demographic composition of Zamboanga City changes over the years,  as it is  changing even now. It is good to aim at developing an inclusive society for Zamboanga City, where families of diverse backgrounds learn to live together in harmony; communities of native-born Zamboangeuños living side by side with Bisaya-speaking people from the Visayas or Ilocano-speaking from the north or Tausug-speaking from the islands. There will be difficulties to contend with: think what the effect will be when you do lechon in your yard and the scent of the cooking meat wafts over to where your Tausug neighbors are; or when the property owner scolds the children for climbing over the wall to harvest the still green mango and the parents elevate the incident to a family conflict ; things like this.  These minor irritants can be overcome so long as we remember the fundamental rule- Love your neighbor as yourself.

The converse of an inclusive community will be the exclusive community – Tausugs living only with Tausugs; Ilocanos living only with Ilocanos; etc.  Without meaning to we are forming ghettos – we are not only fenced in physically but we are also fenced in by attitudes and perceptions of others. Fences of hollow blocks and inter-link wires can limit us physically but when our minds are open we can still reach out to those outside our own perimeters. On the other hand someone who is closed in by his/her attitudes towards other people can be kept a prisoner even when living in a fenceless property.

While I am an advocate for inclusive communities I am aware that it takes more effort to forge a friendly, inter-active,  inclusive  community from residents who come from different backgrounds. This is when the call to “love your neighbor” becomes a real challenge and a real commitment to what we know in our hearts is the greater good.