Peace With Your Neighbor

My grandfather always says that some of the most important things in life are: having a good match with your significant other, gaining satisfaction from your everyday employment, and living among thoughtful neighbors. While the first two can be self-designed to some extent, your neighbors are usually a given.

Now imagine you had a terrible neighbor. Who hasn’t encountered dealing with a noisy neighbor, or someone that can effectively tackle our peacefulness? A neighbor, for instance, that constantly wants parts of your own garden and doesn’t fully cooperate with your view of where its house ends and your garden starts. While you’re doing all you can to control this neighbor’s activities – its mobility, its electricity, its water stream, even the amount of funding it gets from its relatives, the neighbor is here to stay.

Wait, there is more. This neighbor has an even more annoying friend. This friend cannot agree with you on anything. You both cannot look at each other’s eyes. Luckily, this friend lives across the street so you don’t have to see him on a regular basis. So you simply ignore it and use your economic advantage to make its life miserable. From time to time, this friend acts brutally towards your family. Then, you respond aggressively and has to cancel any planned family vacation.

Now these coercion efforts come with a price. You’re slowly paying less attention to your own kids. Even to your wife. Not to mention your dog. Your neighbor gets the best out of you. No more sitting and doing homework with your kids, no more cultural activities with your wife. You’re obsessed with your neighbor. You even involve your own kids in this dispute. They have to spend their best years making sure this neighbor is nowhere near your garden.

And your neighborhood is watching. Even your closest friends don’t show up as often anymore. Others are considering crossing you out from their future initiatives.  Hey, you were the brains behind all these gatherings with friends and wanna-be friends. Now you’re out of the loop. You will survive, but your children are definitely missing important opportunities.

Wouldn’t it make sense to invest your efforts otherwise? How’s signing a deal with this neighbor sounds? You will have a written piece of paper, agreed by both of you, in which you both fully recognize the existence of the other, agree not to hassle each other anymore, and draw an undisputable line between the neighbor’s house and your garden. This is even more appealing when you consider the neighborhood’s proven record of fully respecting agreements between its residents. Your neighbor is willing to include its even more annoying friend from across the street. You can sign a package deal that would take away years of frustration from these fairly annoying residents in your neighborhood. Further, each and every house in your neighborhood guarantees it will assist in keeping this neighbor’s promises. Even uncle Sam, who lives a few streets away and has enormous interests and significant means for strengthening your family, is willing to bring his own children to make sure this neighbor cooperates.

Your wife and kids? They are delighted. Finally you can focus back on your real strengths – entrepreneurship, science, benefits for family members who do well, support for family members who are about to do well. Boy they miss the family they used to have.

About the Author
Ido Sivan Sevilla is a Public Policy PhD Candidate at the Hebrew University. Previously, Mr. Sivan Sevilla was an Israeli Fulbright Scholar and Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he studied international relations and policy analysis. He has prior experience in leadership positions from the Israeli Air Force [Captain] and the Prime Minister's Office. Last summer, he was selected to serve as a Legislative Fellow at the U.S. Congress through the Rosenthal Fellowship []. He has a B.A. with honors in Computer Science from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.