My living room is filled with morning rays. Birds are chirping and my wife’s flowers are in full bloom – not something to take for granted here in this prairie province where mother nature reminds you constantly of who is really in charge. And yet, there is something idyllic about this time and this place spurred on perhaps by news of what is happening in the provinces on either end of where I live – people scrambling to save precious memories stored in water logged boxes floating in their basements or worse – property and the loss of life taken in the moment, the result of nature’s wrath.
We do seem to live in this constant flux of comparison – the criteria changing moment by moment. Although we seem to baulk at the mere idea that we look at our neighbours with judgement in our hearts – we are so much better than that – it is true. Well, at least for me. In fact it would seem that I cannot go more than a few moments of gazing out of my living room window without my heart betraying what I am really thinking. Sad really, for in another place perhaps I would have really enjoyed getting to know my neighbours.
Instead I stand on my front steps with a stern look on my face when the neighbour’s children ride their bicycle down the street and use my driveway as a place to turn around before pedalling back to where they came from. My attempt to keep my property mine does not go unnoticed by the neighbourhood children as they see this large man standing on his front steps scornfully telling them to stay away. They too are not without judgement as the twin boys, no more than 5 years old, pedalling bicycles equipped with training wheels, pause long enough to look at me, stick their tongue out and make that spitting noise in disgust at my protest.
I am taken aback in the moment, unsure of this newest addition to insults and judgement I have received over the years. In my attempt to have civility and order in my neighbourhood – you stay on your side of the fence and I shall do the same – I have been handed a sentence of condemnation – informed by the twin boys, who as I continue to notice as I gaze out of my living room window, are loved and appreciated by all my neighbours.
In retrospect I should have allowed them the freedom to ride their bicycles all over my driveway, enjoying their idea of freedom – that being the consumption of every else’s resources and accomplishments (it is my driveway after all). But, I can’t. I won’t. I mustn’t. I may have a heart that surprises me from time to time with the judgement I store there but I don’t venture outside and proceed to take what is not mine and consume what I desire often at the expense of others. Those twin boys are only a reflection of the larger problem I see all around me – a disconnect from mutual respect and civility. Oh, there is no longer judgement on the faces of those around me for I fear that they have moved beyond judgement long ago convinced that everything they see they are somehow allowed to consume for themselves.
And in this I am fearful. The tongue-spitting mockery I received from those twin boys is one thing but their grown-ups play by an entirely different set of rules.