waving to babies

A few days ago I was in the grocery store and I noticed a disturbing trend. I was pushing Emma in the shopping cart while she was smiling and waving at everyone. She is a very friendly baby. I noticed that people turned their head and walked away. Probably one out of ten people waved back or said something. They saw this beautiful little girl and they just ignored her.

Who ignores babies?

I got to thinking, what if we all smiled at each other and waved? After the first few people ignored my daughter I did a little experiment. I started smiling at people and trying to interact with others. The results were predictable, nothing. One lady needed help grabbing something on the top shelf, but I had to offer the help.

It is amazing that somewhere along the line we have engineered life to have no practical need of our neighbors. Not only do we not need each other, we don’t care that we don’t need each other. Our thirst for independence doesn’t even allow us to acknowledge a baby when she waves.

The other day I saw a neighborhood watch sign that was old and banged up. It made me remember my childhood neighbor, Mary. Mary knew everything that happened within a three-block radius. She always had an egg when you were one egg shy on the cake you were baking. In a pinch she would watch the kids while mom and dad ran to the store. She was ever-present by her phone. When you were trying to sneak in after curfew Mary was there to catch you and tell your parents. I don’t know that any of us really understood the communities’ reliance on Mary until after she got sick and died of cancer. She was the connecting point for the entire block, after she died no one stepped up to fulfill that role; almost as if culture is shifting away from the practical need of someone like Mary.  She was even replaced by technology, webcams and security systems could effectively fill Mary’s role.

I wonder if we have so engineered our lives to be self-reliant that the practical need for our neighbors has become non-existent. I wonder if we’ve become so used to not needing our neighbors that we become cold to strangers. I wonder if this sense that, “I can do it myself,” has made us not wave to precious children who have nothing to offer but a wave. My daughter waving to strangers makes me think that she has it right. She isn’t tainted yet; she still needs people to survive. Her wave is a gentle reminder that we need each other.

This week:

Wave to babies

Realize the need for your neighbor

Be intentional about connecting with people

Do not allow the over engendered self-reliance of our culture to taint you to the point where you don’t wave to babies.


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  • As a society we have definitely retreated to the security of our four walls and small circles. It is a frightening prospect to become a neighbor in need in a world that lacks good Samaritans.

    • nichole elliott

      this same exact though runs through my head, that also happens to audrey. it makes me mad for a second the way people are, then i just realize how sad it is. enjoyed reading this

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