This I Believe

S - Torrance, California
Entered on January 9, 2007

I live in a neighborhood.

Tonight, the simplest thing happened. My down-the-street neighbor, a man who I have talked with, but do not know extremely well, drove by and saw my dog in my front yard. I was in the darkened side driveway retrieving my trashcan. He was concerned enough about my dog being by herself, that he walked down the block to see that she was safe. This is, yes, a simple gesture, and yet also a gesture that holds all the answers to the world’s problems.

This man cared – about my dog, and about me, and in this caring for another, this looking out, is the very generous gesture that the world needs, whether it be on the scale of neighborhoods or nations. Can we care about each other for no reason at all? How would such caring change the world? How would it change your world?

As I write about this man and this small event, I wonder if you, the reader, might think that I am not very blessed by such caring. This would be incorrect. In fact, these “small events” happen all the time, to me, and to all of us. In fact, they are so small, that they often seem insignificant, and it is in fact, more likely we talk to others about the less generous acts bestowed upon us – the driver who cut us off, the woman on her cell phone holding up a long line…. I vow now, to try as best I can, to notice, and talk about, the generous, the heroic, the caring events that I cross paths with.

Tonight, this man inspired me to write this essay to say what I believe: I believe that unless we see the world as a global community, one big ol’ neighborhood, we are in trouble. Unless, we stop seeing a “them” and “us,” we are in trouble. Unless, you and I start looking out for our neighbor, down the street, in the poor section of town, on the other side of the world in Darfur, we are in trouble – all of us.

When people visited our house, my parents made all these neighbors, from all over the world, feel welcome. Our food and drink was shared. Because my parents lived their generosity, I learned this amazing mathematical formula that proves to me, over and over again, that when I am generous, the world gives back to me in amazing graces.

I am grateful that I live in a neighborhood.