The Perfect Time To Socialize

Do you know your neighbors full name?

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Sometimes I think I am the most idealistic person on the planet, but I want to throw this out there and ask all of you that will read it to think about the idea and let it stew. This idea occurred to me yesterday, but when it all came down to time I found I did not have enough time to write the thought out. Yesterday was Halloween and as Americans and breeders those of us with children probably took our kids out trick or treating. What I am guessing we did not do is take the time to get to know the strangers that we allowed our children to solicit candy from. Some might call this bad parenting because if you are anything like me you have told your children over and over again not to take candy from strangers. Are you feeling kind of like a hypocrite because I did. We did not say I am Joan, or good to meet you. More than likely we rushed off to the next house like it was the running of the bulls unless we already knew the person. I mention this because we had a unique opportunity to get to know the people we live around and to make new friends and we wasted it. Do you realize that violence in our schools and neighborhoods has risen,socialization with one another has decreased, and the lack of community may be the reason why?

As a parent I remember all the times this world has let me down and made me neurotic about my children venturing out of the safety of our home. I remember Oklahoma City, Katrina, 9/11, Columbine, and a school shooting on a playground not 8 months ago. A random guy tried to take out kids playing on the playground and some construction workers hearing the two shots intervened to take him down before he could do more physical harm. Then I wondered what has changed us so much that there is so much violence in the world. And what I see is that history has shown us that in past centuries there was a deeper sense of community. People were more reliant on one another. Probably the easiest period in history as an example of camaraderie is the pioneer era. As a nation we have become cut off from one another and while I know these are busier times we are less concerned about what our neighbors might be going through or our ability to be of assistance to one another. Simply put we have bought into the me plan.

The Pioneer period is just one example of times when neighbors would look after each other. It is just one example of a time when people rallied together to help their neighbors out of tricky situations. You are probably thinking there are more people now and I can't possibly help all my neighbors in trouble. That is probably true, but maybe the kindest word or sitting with them for awhile could greatly ease their load. If you were truly honest with yourself how likely would you be to go next door and ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar as opposed to just running to the grocery store. Do you even know your neighbors? And if you don't why not? You have to live next to these people for maybe the next 10 years. Don't you think you should. And if your neighbor came over to ask for sugar if you had never met them do you think you would go out of your way to be of assistance? In pioneer times you might have gotten a whole pie.It's just something to consider.

Most places now have their own parks in the middle of the complex. I was at one with some friend's kids and the thing I noticed is that people would show up with their kids and not speak to each other at all. What are we teaching our kids. Then I noticed that the kids would barely play with each other unless they wanted to play with their toys. I spoke to everyone and let every child play with the toys and only then did the parents loosen up and begin to talk to one another. And it occurred to me that a park is the most social place in the world. It is the place where all kids social skills begin. It is usually their first interaction with other kids and adults so shouldn't this be the place where we mirror what good social skills look like? We can give them that good start by creating a good foundation of what social responsibility looks like. It's just a thought, but if our kids are watching us then shouldn't we teach them what acceptance and community looks like rather than keeping them locked away from the world.

I am just as guilty as the next person. I have my days when I am the queen bee and then I have my days when I am socially inept. What I realized a little late yesterday, is that as a mom and a friend I have an amazing opportunity to break the cycle and show my kids what it means to be a real neighbor and a socially responsible person. The holidays are just around the corner so I am going to say that now is the best opportunity to be positive and put some good cheer out there. We all have to live in this world and it takes two seconds to say "Hi, I am Joan I live on the second floor or have a great day" and smile at the person. If that is too much for you then just remember we are all our brothers or sisters keepers in one way or other whether we want to be or not. Wouldn't you want to be the kind that made a difference at the end of the day?

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