Tonight was a rough one for our block for a number of reasons.
At the top of the list, was being awakened at 4a by a young woman screaming as she fled down the center of the street, trailed by her would-be sexual assaulter. Thank God, more than a dozen neighbors came out of their houses to chase away the attacker, as the terrified woman collapsed into an exhausted heap in the middle of the street.
I took note of three types of neighbors during this trauma:
The first are those who did nothing. Perhaps they heard and just rolled over in bed, or peeked out the window and simply watched from a distance. Regardless, God help us for the ways in which we ever stay detached from the needs of others.
Thankfully, there was a solid core of a different type of neighbor -- those willing to stand up & get involved on some level. These were the neighbors who called the police, turned on their porch light or were willing to step outside. They were willing to put themselves in a bit of risk to be visible and present for a neighbor in great need. I am so thankful for neighbors like this -- those willing to live here instead of moving out and those willing to act on behalf of others.
Finally, as I walked down the block toward the woman on the street, I saw a man whose neighboring rose to another level. He was an older man, still shirtless from sleep despite the chill in the air, who left his porch, walked out to the woman crying in the street and simply sat down next to her in the middle of the dirty street. He wasn’t really saying or doing anything in that moment. He was just being present with her, making sure she was not alone.
The world needs more neighbors willing to step off the porch, sit down and just be present with others in the midst of their pain -- for safety, for support, but also just human connection.
Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Jesus:
Who, though he was God, did not consider his status as something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he gave up his privilege by taking the very nature of a servant, embracing our humanity.