<the> neighborly thing to do


At a home-owners community meeting, a newly moved-in couple is being discussed. The neighbourhood has some dark secret — strict, seemingly ridiculous rules that everyone must follow, but only the old-timers know what it all is really about — the monster kills anyone who doesn't observe the rules. But anyway, the new couple is not trusted enough to tell them the whole truth. But one concerns about the couple:
— It's just that... There are so many... so many rules. I think that maybe they would be able to keep up with them better if they knew what happened if they don't. It's the neighborly thing to do. I really think we should do this.
The X-Files, episode Arcadia

Why is he using the deifnite article, what do you think? To me, "a" would sound better.
Thank you.
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