Monday, June 23, 2008
meet the neighbors
An article in today’s New York Times asks the question “Why is it that in an age of cheap long-distance rates, discount airlines and the Internet, when we can create community anywhere, we often don’t know the people who live next door?”
The article goes on to explain that today neighbors are estimated to socialize with each other approximately half as much as they did in the 1950’s. The article does not attempt to explain why this is.
Here’s an idea: People are scared of each other, and with good reason.
The article mentions in passing that a few years ago one of his neighbors shot his wife and then shot himself. Their two teenage children were at home. This is in a middle class suburban neighborhood. An estimated 45,513 “intimate partner” homicides occurred in the United States between 1981 and 1998. That’s an average of about 2,700 Americans each year being killed by a spouse or lover. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, there have been 3,342 Americans killed there in combat. That’s about 660 per year. The war in American living rooms is killing Americans four times as quickly as the war in Iraq.
Sadistic joy killing is not at all uncommon either. (See this post.)
If you know that your neighbor may very possibly murder someone, it might be wise not to visit him too often. “Socializing” through anonymous Internet accounts may be the better way to go – with no names, addresses, phone numbers or photographs involved. At least not real photographs.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
In the 1950’s American minds had not yet been completely poisoned by Darwin’s monkey myth (also known as evolution). People believed that they were not merely apes who, logically, should behave like gorillas. They believed that God had created them, that they had a soul and that God would hold them accountable for their behavior.
There are, thank God, still places like this.
Take for example the neighborhood I live in. People believe in God and they believe that He commanded us to love each other. We celebrate the Sabbath and Jewish holidays together. We don’t gun each other down in family arguments. People are not perfect, but they are human and civilized.
It can be like that everywhere. I have a dream.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:59 AM