“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi
I am determined to show my children a different way to live in the world. The world can be a scary place, especially living in the big bad city. Bad things can happen but I have always been convinced that the only way to combat the threat of danger isn’t to run and hide from it but to consciously act in a different way. To live kindness, to live community, to live trust. Yes, sometimes that’s not the 100% safest option but I’ve been convinced that some level of risk is worth it because in living unapologetic kindness, community, and trust in a broken world you’re also living hope… and hope is something this world desperately needs. Only then can the world truly start to change, when we choose not to live in fear.
I’ve been convinced of this until recently.
A week ago a good friend of ours was attacked in her own home in the middle of the day by a complete stranger. He pushed his way past her when she answered the door, locked her little boy in the bathroom, and beat her mercilessly. She may not even be alive now if their roommate hadn’t miraculously come home right then and scared him off. She is profoundly broken, both physically and emotionally. Her husband and roommate are emotionally broken, family and friends… broken, our community as a whole… broken. How do you deal with something like that?
The thing is, she wasn’t in any situation I’m not in every single day and she didn’t do anything that I wouldn’t have done. They only live 10 minutes away from us in what I would consider a slightly nicer neighborhood than ours. I can’t get it out of my mind that if some nutjob had come to my house instead of hers there is absolutely no reason it wouldn’t have been me.
It doesn’t make me want to reach out to the world, or my neighbors, or a stranger who needs help… it makes me want to lock all the doors to my house and hide.
Every time I’m home by myself with the kids now and the dogs start barking I freeze. Who knows what evil is lurking outside, ready to come in and get us!? When I’m walking to my car in the grocery store parking lot after dark and a shadow moves my heart races. Who knows what monsters may be hiding behind the next red Toyota!? When I decide to take the kids out for a walk or to the park I think about it much harder than I normally would. Isn’t venturing out onto the urban streets just asking for trouble!?
Because the hopelessly bruised and swollen face isn’t on the news anymore… it’s in front of me on someone I love.
And that’s really freaking hard to deal with.
It came to it’s peak yesterday when I made a pan of cinnamon rolls for our neighbors across the street who I see and wave at all the time but have never formally met… what’s a better ice breaker than homemade cinnamon rolls? But when I went to unlock the door (the side door used to be unlocked during the day so friends who stopped by could come right in) I briefly wondered if I should. Should I open the door and leave the safety of my locked house and my protective dog? Should I be taking my kids across the street the the house of people who were virtually strangers?
It was that thought that made me realize I had let it go too far. The idea that I could keep us all locked away in the house for the rest of our lives in the name of safety is absurd, and a world where you can’t meet your neighbors isn’t the world I want my kids to grow up in… risk or no risk.
There is a fine line between being appropriately safe and making fear based decisions that get in the way of living fully. I used to think I knew where the line was but now I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ve been making horribly dangerous decisions since we moved here without knowing it (remember, I came from a land where hitchhiking when you run out of gas is totally kosher… even as a teenage girl), or maybe that mythical line is still where it’s always been and I just need to get over this rattled feeling.
I still want to be the change I wish to see in the world… I’m just now painfully aware of how hard that can be sometimes.