The Good Neighbor: A Moment With Bill Reflection
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
I spent twenty-odd years living at 4022 North 18th in Tacoma, Washington. We moved there when I was five, and I finally left home when I was twenty-six after my mother re-married.
During those years I had a wonderful childhood. The other day I was thinking about that neighborhood and I counted, in my mind, eighteen kids that lived within two blocks of our old home, all within five years of each other in age. I was surprised to realize that I could remember every one of their names, and I also could remember every adult neighbor in that immediate area.
On second thought, maybe it isn’t so surprising. It was a close neighborhood. People looked out for each other there, and we barbecued together, chatted over picket fences together, and shared in triumphs and tragedies together.
I can see them all now. At the top of our block was the Mertz family, five kids and Carl and Ethel in a big, old white clapboard home with a giant maple in the front yard. Next to them were the Langdons, then the Conrads and then our home. Across the street were the Harrisons, the Lillies, the Gordons and the Hoffmans. I can enter my mind’s theater and tell you which of those families dried their laundry on a clothesline, what they all did for a living, what kind of car that they drove and if they had pets.
I can tell you about the Norton’s divorce, the death of Mr. Streitz and the house fire that destroyed the Monroe home on a chilly January evening in 1971.
Forty years after leaving that neighborhood, I can see it as if it were yesterday, and still to this day I feel good about my time there. In truth, not once since I left that neighborhood have I felt the same feelings of belonging, and that means, quite frankly, that I have work to do.
FLASH FORWARD TO TODAY
And it is a flash, isn’t it? Look back on the landscape of your lives and I am certain that you feel the same way that I do….how could it all pass by so quickly?
So we flash forward to today, and I find myself in the Northeast Neighborhood of Olympia, Washington, forty years later and thirty miles south of that great neighborhood of my youth.
Do I know all of my neighbors here on Northeast Fir Street? No! In truth I know about half of them.
Do we barbecue together? Once a year at the Neighborhood Street Fair.
Do we chat over fences? Yes, as a matter of fact this is a very friendly neighborhood.
Do we share each other’s triumphs and tragedies? No, there is a guarded distance between us.
What does it all mean? Well, I believe it means we had better get our collective act together. Why?
I believe this nation is in trouble, and I believe that if we are waiting for our government to improve our lives we are fools. I believe strongly that the only way this nation is going to return to a status of greatness is if every citizen decides to become a part of the solution rather than a whining part of the problem.
And I believe this to be true in other nations as well.
No, I do not live in the UK, but I’m willing to bet that their problems are very similar to ours.
No, I do not live in India, but chances are great that they can relate to what I talk about in this essay.
No, I do not live in South Africa, but tell me, all you South Africans, if this does not sound familiar.
We have lost our way as a people.
We have taken wrong turn after wrong turn and now feel the first stages of panic settling in as the landscape looks foreign and we recognize so little of our country.
Fear, once a result of watching too many horror movies, is now an insidious part of our daily lives.
Distrust, once reserved for insurance salesmen and lawyers, is now the default setting of our emotional computer.
Hope, the guiding light that has illuminated the darkened paths of civilization since the beginning of time, is now waning.
And yes love, the most important thing in life, is in short supply and rationed out like food stamps for the starving.
I ask all of you….is this any way to live?
THE TIME IS NOW
Ms. Goldman was an anarchist during the late 19th Century, known for her political activism, writing and speeches. I have known a few anarchists during my lifetime, fire-breathing radicals who saw wrongs and sought to right them, and like Ms. Goldman believed that only through revolution could social change occur.
I happen to agree with them all.
This country is in need of a revolution because, quite frankly, it’s broken.
The days of old are gone. The days when a man who wanted to work could work are gone. The days when trust and fellowship were daily occurrences are gone. The days when safety on the streets was a foregone conclusion are gone. The days when love ruled supreme over hate and apathy are gone.
And only revolution can change it all.
I was a fire-breathing radical during the 60’s. Today I breathe polluted air and try to bring about change in a less dramatic fashion. I do not shout from the steps of the ROTC Building today, but I do write in opposition to the insanity of my government. I do not hate the police or military, but I do write to safeguard against any abuses of power that I see.
Most importantly, though, I try to live a life that I can be proud of, and I try to lead a quiet revolution of change within the very fabric and stitching of this country.
I believe there are millions out there who desperately want change but do not know how to make that change happen.
I believe there are millions who would embrace that old neighborhood of mine, and the underlying principles of justice that was exhibited on that street, but they do not have a clue where to sign up or how to partake in the necessary actions.
We have lost our way and it is high time we find our way back. It is high time that the silent majority step up and make themselves known, and quit sitting on their collective arses waiting for someone else to do it.
Are you ready to become a living, breathing example of the life you want for yourselves and your families?
Join H.O.W. on Facebook
Humanity One World is dedicated to making this world a better place, changing life one person at a time.
I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE
I need your help. I am just one writer in Olympia, Washington, one citizen among seven billion in this world. My voice has no power unless it ignites a fire within all of you, and that fire becomes a blazing inferno that eventually engulfs this planet. I am just standing on the soapbox hoping that someone will listen and stand next to me….one person at a time…making a difference in this world.
I invite you to join me in H.O.W. (Humanity One World). I invite you to spread the message to your family and friends. I invite you to stop talking about change and actually become that change. I invite you, dammit, to join me in a peaceful revolution of brotherhood and love.
Quite frankly I am sick and tired of people complaining and doing nothing. I am also sick and tired of those who have more than they will ever need and not caring about others. I am tired of the greed and apathy, and I am tired of the complacency that has become an epidemic in society today.
We can change the world and H.O.W. is my solution.
You can visit the H.O.W. Headquarters at the Corner of Love and Compassion Streets.
I hope to see you all there soon….before it’s too late for all of us.
It’s a beautiful day in the H.O.W. neighborhood….won’t you be my neighbor?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)