When the news presents you with stories of 8-year-old boys being killed, dismembered, and frozen in their killer’s freezer, it’s only human to question where the world is heading. Where we, as people, are heading.
Sure, history has proved that psychos have lived amongst us since the dawn of time – Herod the (not so) Great died in 4BC and is known for the murder of his entire family and much of his community – but it seems the problems are getting worse. Much, much worse.
When I was a child, playing in the playground without having your parents shield you from the prying eyes of the local paedophile was common practice. As was being able to ride your bike to school, walk home from netball training, and go to the movies with your friends when it’s dark outside.
Take my parent’s time of growing up and you had even more sanctity. My father, for example, tells tales of his young life in Istanbul that reads like a fairytale. Climbing trees, flying kites, and roaming the neighbourhood for your next laugh before being called in for dinner. My mum was the same, having grown up in Coffs Harbour, which back then was a small country town. Everyone knew each other, watched out for each other, protected each other.
I wrote here on The Happiness Cocktail some time ago about our lack of community in the Western world. I know that little Leiby Kletzy was from a hugely community-focused neighbourhood, but since my travels through Europe these views have only been strengthened. In Turkey, Italy, Greece and Croatia, there was an overwhelming sense of belonging amongst the people, which, in turn, made you feel safe, protected, and like someone always had your back.
My 85-year-old grandma has her entire building on speed dial in Istanbul. She recently woke in the middle of the night with chest problems and called her neighbour from downstairs. It was 2am and her neighbour was there in 20 seconds. If only Natalie Jean Wood, the poor 87-year-old woman in Surry Hills, Sydney, had that same network of friends, she might have not been left to rot in her home for 8 years. 8 YEARS her dead body was left there. How does this happen?
But here’s how life takes you on a rollercoaster and delivers you back from evil; after reading that article about the 8-year-old boy in Brooklyn and taking the time to question whether there was anyone good left in the world, I got a knock on the door. It was our neighbour here in Asheville, North Carolina (the friendliest town in the world), holding a 6-pack of beer and introducing himself. He simply said in his thick southern accent, ‘Hi, I’m Max. Your mum told me you were coming and I thought I’d come and introduce myself. Let’s be friends.’ And with that, I welcomed Max into our home, our life, and our beer collection, and remembered that yes, there are plenty of good people still left in this world. Let’s all be one of them.
Tell me Happies…
Do you make an effort to be friendly to people?
Do you think we’re losing our sense of community?
How can we all band together to bring this sense of community back?