Asking a Different Question

It feels so insignificant to say thoughts and prayers are with the families in Newtown, CT.

I can’t physically do much for them now, so they’ll have to do.

I feel sick today.

While work is busy buzzing around me, I am stuck in thought.

In high school my class was forced to attend an assembly where the basic theme of it was “Smiling at somebody could go a long way.” You can call it common sense. You can call it some hippy dippy new-age feel-goodary crap.

Fact of the matter, I think it stuck with a lot of us. I won’t say the class of 2007 at John Glenn was bully free and that everybody got along, but what we did seem to have was a general respect for one another.

Smiling at somebody can go along way.

We probably don’t smile enough, but I think as important as the the smile is, the gesture behind it has more meaning.

It says “I know you exist.”

It also kind of says “I am watching you.”

It’s at least 5 years later now, and I still think about that assembly on occasion, and especially after tragic events like today’s shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, When a man my age opened fire on teachers and children alike.

Or two days ago when a man my age opened fire in a mall in Oregon.

Or six-months ago when a man age opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora.

Slowly, despite our rising Facebook friendship numbers, we’re becoming a nation of shut-ins. Especially after events like today, we all have that natural reaction to “take care of our own” and tell the rest of the world to piss-off.

I’ve read over and over today people asking “what is wrong with society?”

Guns? Violent movies? Eminem?

Far be it from me to claim I have THE answer, but maybe I can help echo  better questions than the ones we’ve been asking.

What happened to our communities?  What happened to being neighborly? and why don’t we look out for one-another anymore?

It sounds cheesy, but we are not a community any more. We’re a house-divided. We’re a bunch of “hey, I’m just one guys” who don’t know how to be a group and work together despite our differences. We aren’t nosy neighbors, We don’t ask questions of anybody, and often times we over-look suspicious behavior because we don’t want to get involved. Why are we more connected than ever, and yet, not as connected as we used to be?

I am  guilty of this. I moved into a new apartment building recently and the very first night I saw every neighbor on my floor come home.  Of course I wanted to see them, check out who is living around me.

I smiled. I said “hi.”

That was it. I’m living in very close proximity to these people, and I had the chance to learn a little bit about them, and all I did was say “hi” and move on with my day? How are you supposed to know if your neighbor is acting unusually, if you don’t know how your neighbor usually acts? Acting unusually?  How am I suppose to know anything about them, when I am too closed off to take time to learn their names?

It’s delusional to think these crimes are 100% preventable, but I suspect if we were all a little more aware of who and what is around us we might fare a little better in preventing such tragedies.

So at the risk of being over-bearing, nosy, or a good neighbor, I am telling you that I am going to make a better effort to be a neighbor and pay attention in my community, and I hope that you can too.

A smile can go a long way.

And don’t always mind your own business.

Is it too soon after the tragedy to suggest that we need to look out for one-another?

You can go back to your gun debate now.