Finding A Way Home

Pamela - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on October 7, 2010

I believe that a sense of community improves the richness of our lives. It helps to instill manners, a sense of belonging and our actual physical safety in the community.

Some of us have been fortunate enough to grow up knowing our neighbors. I was one of those people. As a child, we spent many days running through the neighborhood. Squirt gun fights turned into kick the can as the sun set. While our parents knew we were somewhere in the neighborhood, our exact whereabouts were pretty much a mystery. It wasn’t as big a deal back then, not because we were blissfully ignorant, but because our parents weren’t the only ones who felt responsible for us. They knew everyone in the neighborhood, and everyone knew us. While that may have meant that we were going to “get it” when we got home because someone heard us using a bad word, (yes that used to be a big deal to most people), it also meant that no one was going to snatch us off the street unless they were willing to risk a wrench to the head from the neighbor working late on his car. It meant that the kid next door wasn’t going to break into your house to steal your television. He didn’t want to. The neighbors were the people that bandaged his knee and sent him back out with a cookie when he hurt himself.

It also meant that you said hello when you saw someone you knew, introduced yourself to the new family on the street, and went to carry the groceries for the senior ladies in the neighborhood. We didn’t have terms like home invasion. We didn’t need them. It was a rare thing to hear about that type of crime, because people were looking out for each other. If you saw someone breaking into your neighbor’s house you didn’t hide your head in the sand. You called the police. You went over later and took a casserole or a cake to show that you cared. Somebody changed the locks and somebody repaired any damage. People took care of each other.

Chatting meant hanging out on the front porch and talking about the weather, the kids, whatever came to mind. It wasn’t a box that opened on your computer screen. You knew when your neighbors would be out of town. You picked up their mail and you fed their dog.

If you lost your job, the entire street may have known it, but the entire street kept their ears open for something else for you. No matter how tough it seemed at times, you always knew somebody had your back. Networking didn’t require expensive lunches or passwords. It just required you to talk to people. The people living all around you.

I don’t think that we should throw out the baby with the bathwater, but the same technology that has made our lives easier and was supposed to give us more time, has taken us away from our very core. People spend time talking about the world community when they can’t even maintain a community in the areas that they live. The loss of the value we once placed on family, friends and neighbors can’t be regained without some conscious effort on all of our parts. If you really want to make the world a better place, you need to start right here and right now. So get off the computer, go bake a cake, and introduce yourself to your neighbor. The only way we’re going to do this is one handshake at a time.