"Hey! The newspaper!" I yelled loud enough down the street so he could easily hear me. "Oh, sorry 'bout that," he responded as he turned around. "I thought it was one of those free ones."
Um, yeah, it WAS one of those free ones. Someone else paid for it. He stole my neighbor's paper.
Staring out the front window of our house, stretching before my morning run, I witnessed this little theft. The funny thing is, I wasn't going to say anything at all. My neighbor continually leaves her papers out on the front lawn. Almost daily I throw it on her doorstep and they sometimes collect there for days. So why bother yelling at the man? I mean, if she's not really interested in it, why not let another guy read the paper?
I knew I had to say something, at least for the principle of it.
You see, just the day before, I wrote that letter to the editor of the Enquirer about the state of my community. I took offense to the fact that a reporter made Walnut Hills sound like Snake Plissken's New York City. But I'm pretty sure that newspaper theft is the least of people's concerns about Walnut Hills. But in some way, it too contributes to the safety complex. When people feel unsafe, they're unwilling to speak up. They will easily overlook obvious transgressions of others because they're afraid of what could happen.
So how do you make a community a safer, more livable place? The culmination of my urban perception series is to urge something that transcends the urban context. It's something that you can do anywhere that would assist in making all the world (city, suburban, or rural) even better.
I'm not suggesting that you sell your home and relocate. I'm saying that you need to do something. You need to stop standing on the sideline in fear. You need to be engaged. If you see something, say something. If action is necessary, you be the one to do it; if you don't, no one else will. You need to vanquish your fears and do what's best for those who cannot speak. You have the potential to redefine personal safety. And it's done by moving.
My challenging the guy who stole the newspaper is not the first time I've said something. Over the past six years, I've spoken to total strangers concerning their transgressions. For example: if I witness someone litter, I'll let them know I saw it. And if it's a child, I will make them pick it up. And they always do. They've probably never been confronted about it. You need to move, because inaction permits fear to set up shop. Could something happen to me? Of course, but I'd rather go out while moving than in a state of compliance.
You don't have to live where I do. You don't have to see the world the way that I do. But if you're going to complain about safety while cowering, then you've already lost.
Do something already. Stake claim to your own safety.