Mar 5, 2014

Say 'Hi' to your neighbors week

'Hi' again Bob Thx for the coffee!
The good folks at REACH are at it again.

The temp this AM at the Waltham commuter train station was an unnerving (for March) 12 degrees F per my car though my stinging, frozen face scoffed and pushed it down another few degrees. Yet Bob from last years event (here he was in 2013!) undauntedly offered me a hot cuppa with a warm smile and that quintessential connector word -


All the REACH folks at this and other public areas in Waltham, are ignoring the indecent weather this March has brought upon us and for the whole week, they are waylaying cold strangers with a free, hot beverage and a request that they take a minute to say 'Hi' to a neighbor this week. It can change a life - one that's manacled in personal misery because of a lack of human connections. Domestic violence, not to mention depression, soars in number but flies under the radars of detection/interception because of the isolation victims often feel.

In a world where we are increasingly disconnected from each other - by the rigors of Life, distance from family and mental challenges - human connections can make or break futures. And not just of those who are afflicted - but those around them too. Because whether we like it or not - we function as a community and what affects one person does make it around to others, sometimes in unexpected and even untraceable ways.We've only to look at broken souls like Adam Lanza (of the CT school shooting)  and/or the Tsarnaevs (of the Boston Marathon bombing) to see how far-reaching the effect of isolation can be.

These infamous monsters capture the limelight and national attention, alike but victims of domestic abuse and the neglected elderly, remain an untold story because they are not visible. So were the two I named above by the way, until they weren't, through their terrible deeds. I know I'll catch flak for it, but in my eyes, they are as much victims as perpetrators of the horrendous crimes. Don't get me wrong - I've not a single forgiving thought towards them but the question that haunts me is not just the obvious 'Why?' but 'What might have prevented it?'. Gun control , for one but something else: societal accountability, for which they must first feel PART of society in a positive way.

I realize it's simplistic to claim that saying 'Hi!' or befriending someone will turn the tide of their lives - nothings' that simple. But heres' the just might. It just might make them reach out to you or someone else because they feel that someone cares, that they are part of a larger fabric of community even if it doesn't feel like it during their day-to-day struggle.

I'm hardly the first one to think these thoughts and won't be the last. But so what? For every instance of mental hand-wringing I indulge in, usually when the sadly frequent tragedies unfold on our national screen, I wonder 'What next'?

Well, HERE'S 'what next'.
These folks are REACH have tried to do a little something to help build communities, at least the Waltham community.

It's 'Say Hi to your neighbor' week in our city.

So wherever you are, go visit a neighbor you may not know (or even one you don't see often ) and tell them you want to connect. Share a phone number, some cookies or just your smile.

You never know what it might mean to the person at the other end.

More info here. 

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