Yesterday I was driving to my office at the church when I saw a man sprinting down a residential neighborhood clutching a small child. Since I don’t see this every day I flipped around to make sure the child was okay. When I turned around I saw the man who was now beating a car to a pulp. He was standing on top of the car jumping up and down. He was throwing a scooter at the car, he had shattered all the windows and all the while, this kid was just watching this man go nuts.
Yesterday when I saw this, for the protection of the child, I called the police. But inwardly I was grieving for the man, he didn’t look like a guy who had gone off his medication, he looked like a guy who was desperate. He looked like a man who had been deeply hurt.
Today with the Spanish pastor of our church we walked the community and prayed. We know a lot of people from the community but there are still many more to get to know. It struck us how gripped our community is with fear. Almost every house has multiple large scary dogs. Each house has a fence around it. There were many homes with signs that said, “Keep out” or “no parking.”
Today I had the realization that this community (and many like it) for the sake of privacy has lost what it means to be neighborly. When you walk this community, you don’t get the sense that these people have BBQ’s together or have block parties. You get the very real sense that people are afraid and have locked themselves in their homes to feel safe. I began to wonder if any of the neighbors actually know each other or want to, and I began to ask and dream. What would it look like if people loved their neighbors in this community? How would the quality of life change? Would someone reach out to the man having an emotional break down? Would the neighbors have come together to stop the man?
The saddest part about yesterday was that when I was on the phone with the police, they told me that there were multiple other callers, and there were plenty of people on their front lawns watching. But this is the precise issue; we’ve become spectators in the full contact world of community.Share