This neighbor rule follows logically from the concern for other people’s future. There are many ways in which our actions today may undermine the security and well-being of future generations. No matter what you believe about issues like global warming or the mounting national debt in America, the motive behind taking action now—regardless of what you feel that action should or should not be—comes from a moral conviction to care for the next generations.
However, the issues don’t have to be that grandiose. For example, if you are blessed to live into old age, failing health and decreased energy are inevitable. Sooner than later you will want to go through all your belongings in your attic, basement, garage, and closets. If you don’t do that before it’s too late, someone else will have to spend days and weeks sorting through dusty contents in hundreds of boxes. By leaving it to others, you are choosing to confiscate time that rightfully belongs to their tomorrows. Though the incapacities of old age can sneak up on people, try to plan ahead as much as possible. This is just one example of how our present decisions can rob the next generation—or even the next person coming along.
Conversely, we can also bless our chronological neighbors with kindness that will make their lives easier and their work go quicker. When we finish eating, my wife consolidates everything into a nice stack easy for the busboy to clear. She also consolidates the trash and used towels and gives the room a once-over before we check out of hotel rooms.
I used to think she was silly. “Why are you doing that? That’s someone else’s job.”
She just smiles—“I know”—and continues undeterred. She’s loving the busboys and housekeepers—chronological neighbors I rarely think about.