A New Social Movement

I was cleaning out my office today and I discovered a heavy cardboard box I hadn't seen in a couple of years. It turned out to be a bunch of material I ordered to help get a neighborhood watch going here. We were having some problems with vandalism and drugs in the neighborhood at the time and a group of homeowners met with the police who suggested we start a watch.

It seemed like a good idea to me so I organized our initial meeting. There were only four homeowners present but the idea was we would then enlist others who had gone to the police meeting. Guess what happened? Other than the initial few homeowners, nobody wanted to get involved. In fact, we were criticized by some homeowners for bringing the problems to the attention of the community. They were sure it would only drive down home values. I thought these shortsighted nincompoops represented a minority. But, I was wrong and I still have a large box of great materials for a Neighborhood Watch to show for it.

What's happened to us that we have become so focused on our own lives and to hell with the lives of our neighbors? Are we afraid to become connected to each other? Is it because nobody has any time these days to be social?

When I bought my first home in the early 70's I lived in a community not much different than the one I live in today. We were all busy with our jobs and families yet almost every weekend in decent weather you could count on a cookout, get together or party of some type. Since I had the biggest back yard, many of them took place there. They were very seldom planned and almost always spur of the moment. A few of us would get together and then more people would show up. Everyone would bring something and soon the back yard would be full of kids and adults having a great time.

I've tried to keep that type of social activity up but people aren't so spur of the moment anymore. And, many of them aren't even social. They live individual lives that I often think must be filled with desperation at being alone.

So, let's do something about it. During the next couple of weeks make it point to get to know people in your neighborhood. Invite them over for a beer and some burgers. Or, have a watermelon eating contest for the neighborhood kids. Don't forget to take pictures.

And, don't forget to let people know you too. Let them know they can count on you if they need a lift to the store or someone to watch their dog for the weekend. You know – the stuff neighbors used to do all them time.

Let's start a new social movement that won't cost us anything. It will only pay dividends for each of us.

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