My dear readers, I hope that you are feeling the same way that I do. Do you remember when you were a kid how all the neighbors in the hood would talk to each other? Remember when you would know everyone’s name? My mom used to send me over to the neighbor to borrow an egg, or a cup of sugar when she was short. What happened? I remember being 8 years old when something seemed different. We heard some rustling out in our garage, and went to go check it out. A neighbor had just decided to help himself to tools without asking first. This was more than 30 years ago, but still comes up in conversation sometimes. Should this have been such a betrayal? Had he just knocked on the door and asked permission, this trespass would have never been remembered. But he didn’t.
Is this why we, as a culture, have learned to isolate ourselves from our neighbors? Was there a point in everyone’s life when a neighbor crossed the invisible line and caused us to assume the worst instead of giving the benefit of the doubt? Or was it always this way, and as a child, I just failed to notice that it wasn’t one giant family? Shortly after the neighbor in the garage incident, we moved to a new town. I didn’t notice at the time, but my parents didn’t go out of their way to meet any neighbors, unless they belonged to their church. I still went out and met them. I babysat for a lot of them. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to isolate myself from them. The kids grew up, they didn’t need a sitter anymore, and I was old enough to get a real job. Still, my parents didn’t talk to their neighbors. I mean, they did occasionally, as we do, to avoid the awkward moment of being outside at the same time time. It’s that fleeting moment when you have to decide, “Do I pretend I don’t see them? Do I run inside? Do I just say hello? What If they want something?”
So, what has this isolationism brought us? It’s very easy to see. Just look at the world’s political climate. This is not just strictly the United States either. I’m looking at you, ‘Brexit’! The phrase ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ is not strictly for good works. When we act locally as isolationists, we translate that globally. How else can we explain the idea that any person on this earth doesn’t belong in certain areas? We are all on this planet together. I didn’t choose to be here. I was born here. I didn’t have any say in it. Just like people in Germany didn’t choose to be there, or Iran, or Namibia. We all just got to where we are by chance. I am not lobbying for breaking laws and disrespecting boundaries. But what I am asking for is a little compassion. Possibly, a little empathy.
Maybe you are feeling helpless right now. Maybe you are watching the news and you are outraged, but don’t know how you can do anything to stop what is happening. I know for myself, I have a lot of fear. I see shows like ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’, or ‘Diverent’, and I am terrified of what all of this could devolve into. Maybe you think that honesty, integrity and inclusion are dead. My process in dealing with this new and illogical reality has been slow. I go through rage, and then I struggle with defeat. I have decided that real change can only come through kindness. Yes, we have to fight. Yes, we have to march. Now more than ever it is imperative that we stand up for others. That we make our beliefs clear. That we understand denying ANYONE basic liberties and freedom is NOT AN OPINION! It is morally incorrect. If we are ever going to get through this very troubling time, we are all going to have to learn to find a common ground with each other first. Yelling, screaming, pointing fingers has never changed a single mind in history.
What we can do is say hello to strangers. Meet your neighbors. Lend out eggs again. Offer a smile once in a while. Talk to your kids. Ask their opinions. Discuss current issues and understand their thoughts. I still kindness in those around you. I was walking to pick up my mail the other day, and two lady missionaries were riding by on bicycles. One of them dropped her bag on the street. I stopped and helped he to pick up her things. She said to me, very gratefully, “You are a kind soul!” All I could think to myself was, “Isn’t this tragic?” The missionaries happened to be part of the church I was raised in, but am no longer a part of. I didn’t leave on good terms. Quite frankly, I’m not a fan of what I witnessed in my personal experience there. I could have kept walking and ignored them, but if I did, how would that have changed the world? How have we become a society of people who do not help ladies who drop their bags? Does it matter how we got here? I think that what matters is that we have a clear population within our throes that live and breathe hate. The moment we stop fighting is the moment we die culturally. Why not try to assume the best instead of the worst? What will it hurt to offer a helping hand to a stranger? You might feel better if you did. Not only that, but it may help you to finally accept that you’re probably NOT crazy!
Take care of each other.