Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday Soapbox

On this last heat wave we had that just ended a week or so ago, quite a few senior citizens perished due to the excessive heat. I read an article that illuminated some reasons as to why the elderly are especially at risk, including the fact that their bodies are less able to feel extreme heat than a younger person. Of course, one of the other reasons was that they were unwilling to turn on air conditioning due to the fact that they would not be able to afford it.

When I read of the unnecessary deaths of almost a hundred people, I thought to myself, would it have been so hard for someone who lived near them to check on them? If they were unwilling to turn on their AC, at least let them know of a cooling center or give them a ride to a mall where they could sit in relative comfort?

I could just be romanticizing the past, but didn't we used to be a society that interacted more?

I live in a community of townhomes that are fairly close together. I know most of my neighbors directly adjacent, and a few that are further down both sides of the "U" that makes up our street. And yet for all the proximity, there are people who have never smiled or waved or chatted at the communal mailboxes. It doesn't help that our garages are attached, so you could technically drive in and out of your garage and never get within ten feet of another living being before entering your residence.

Of course, there are always going to be the unfriendly people who would rather share a room with an elephant than make small talk with their neighbors. It just seems there are more and more of them everywhere.

With the recent trend of homes being built with more square footage, perhaps people feel that to get the most for their money, they should spend the bulk of their time hunkered down in their abode watching the latest DVD on their expensive home theater system rather than joining a bowling league. Or on their computers, blogging, or other such nonsense.

I am guilty of that, obviously. But the main times I blog are at night, when my husband is at work and my child is asleep. I have no other option than to stay trapped in my home. And really, if I had the choice, I'd rather be out doing something.

Are we so cocooned in our own comfort zones and unwilling to leave them that we are becoming less tolerant of anyone who exists outside of them? Yes, people can be annoying, but we seem unable to extend a bit of compassion anymore. Anything that requires effort is too much trouble. Checking on a lonely and elderly neighbor might fit the bill for something that was just too much trouble.

Shame on us.

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