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Won't you be my neighbor?

October 24, 2022

There has been increase in crimes around us and it is touching closer to home: an elderly friend had her phone stolen out of her front seat by the person who opened the door so she could pay for her gas. Several people robbed a person in the Walmart parking lot while she was putting her stuff in the car. A friend was harassed by a group of people in the middle of the night. Our storage unit was broken into and the toys and sports equipment for our young people was stolen. We had a young person throw something against our truck while I was sitting in it. The stories go on, it is starting to hit closer to home these days. It used to be in ‘the big cities’ where things happened, now it is here! And so many times we are just bystanders of what is happening.

Part of me wants to be angry, angry at the lack of moral compass, part of me wonders what has deteriorated our society so quickly, part of me wants to hide. But then this morning I was reading the Bible in Proverbs 24 it says: “Why would you stand back and watch them stagger into their death? And why would you say, “that is none of my business”? The one who knows you completely and judges your every motive is also the keeper of souls - and not just yours! He sees through your excuses and holds you responsible for failing to help those whose lives are threatened.”

Very graphic visual, but so true, we have become bystanders, we have become people who don’t want to interfere, don’t want to end up on YouTube or in the media, don’t want to get hurt ourselves. We want to protect ourselves and stay out of trouble. We are so overwhelmed ourselves that it is difficult to think about being our brother’s keeper.

But as Mr. Rogers would ask: “Won’t you be my neighbor?” What if we start paying attention to each other again? What if we would notice things, offer a helping hand, being aware of what is happening around us? What if we became “UPSTANDERS”? Someone who recognizes when something is wrong does something to make it right? If an upstander sees or hears about bullying, or attacks, or anything wrong, he or she would do something. Maybe you can stop the bully, report the event, help the victim. I am not saying get yourself into harms way and try to be a hero (although that might be something to be called upon at some point in your life), but to be present and aware. Maybe keep an eye open for the senior in the parking lot putting her food away, or the preteen who is being harassed for being different, or the child that is trying to find their way. Keep an eye open to for vulnerable people around you and care for the needy. Be a neighbor! And let the other person be your neighbor as well.

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