Visiting friends in Louisville last week I see this sign dotted all over their neighborhood. House after house wanted all those that passed by to know the people that lived in those houses were glad they were their neighbors.
It is a strange time we are living in. The walls are going up everywhere. Charlottesville is a symbol really of the whole country. We are pretty divided. So many folk today feel like outsiders. Not only immigrants--the dreamers and their families but the poor, the broken, the lonely. Someone stopped me at church and told me about someone I know whose son had just taken his life after years and years of struggling with addictions. I lead Grief Groups from time to time and those that have lost loved ones feel like outsiders. They look out at the world that keeps on going--and they sit there and the pain of loss just washes over them again and again.
Remember Mr. Rogers on TV? His program was called Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. And the lesson Fred Rogers tried to teach us all is that our neighborhood--like his--should encompass a whole of people regardless of the labels they wear.
There is so much we cannot do. Often we all feel helpless when we are inundated with so much bad news wherever we turn. Some days I pick up the newspaper with dread. But we cannot shut down or grow bitter or throw in the towel. Mr. Rogers once said that when he was a boy his mother taught him to look for hope in the darkest of times. She would say, "Fred, in times of tragedy look for the helpers. They're always there. Perhaps on the sidelines, but the helpers are always there." This was one of the lessons that made Fred Rogers the man he was. He said that after the terrible tragedy of the World Trade Center the thing that kept him going were to firefighters and the police officers who lived and died digging through the rubble looking for people they might save. He said he was amazed at the thousands who lined up to give blood. He told the story of a young violinist from the Julliard School of Music who played for rescue workers that terrible time until she could no longer lift up her arms.
There are always helpers and we have all been called to help wherever we can. Look around your neighborhood--not just the street you live on--but stretch the word until it reaches out and takes in all kinds of people. Who knows--wasn't it Flannery O'Connor that wrote: "the life you save may be your own."
Perhaps this really does make America great(er). God bless us all.
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com