Friday, November 12, 2010


"My home is my castle." We like to think we have an impenetrable fortress,  even today, when we close our doors on the world to recharge our human batteries to face another day. Throughout history, mankind has built structures designed to keep out their enemies and to shelter their families.

Should people in modern neighborhoods be considered alert, observant, or overly alarmed when a stranger takes a picture of your house and the inside through the windows; or when a stranger asks for a cigarette while standing in your driveway; or when a stranger tapes seven of the same advertisements on the front door of your house on different days? Are we vigilant, or nosy, or paranoid when we see such things and report them?

Every neighborhood is a combination of various personalities and, like families, we don't get to choose the other people who are part of this circle. Every neighborhood has incidents of mischief, misdemeanors and sometimes even felonies. No neighborhood is perfect but when we buy a house, we are full of hope that there are good neighbors and no bad actors living nearby.

I have to think that some of the trend toward 55 Plus neighborhoods is an effort to shut out crime and eliminate some of the mischief that occurs in neighborhoods where unsupervised children get out of hand and steal or damage property. We like to live near people like ourselves who can relate to us.

I like the thought that neighbors look out for each other and pay attention to what's happening in their neighborhood. After seeing stories of someone like Jaycee Dugard in the news and wondering how this can happen and no neighbors would notice or report it, I think the guy who pulled off that crime for years and years wouldn't have had a chance in my neighborhood.

After some local vandalism and theft, we now have a neighborhood "passive" watch and an e-mail board where neighbors can keep each other informed of suspicious activity in the neighborhood. I am alert to the fine line between trying to be vigilant and observant but leery of jumping off the deep end and imagining harmful intentions behind every unusual occurrence. It is systematic of the world in which we live where terrorism is always front and center--"If you see something, say something." I grew up in a small community where everyone knew everyone and if someone did something bad, everyone else knew about it before the culprit got home. It made you think twice about what you were doing and how it would be perceived.

I would like to think we should look for the best in everyone, but making excuses is also known as enabling. Unfortunately, it is the reality we face in today's world that thieves, drug users, and sociopaths walk among us and look just like us. Who are they? When do we have to be on guard?  Always.

NOTE: Mont Saint Michel in the picture above isn't really a home or a castle, even though it has housed many people since its construction in the sixth century. It was mainly a monastery-sometime prison, and now is a historical monument. It is one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen and one of my treasured memories. I use any excuse to look at my pictures of it.


  1. Once as a small child (pre-school) I saw my mother go across the road to her grandfathers cottage and I followed her, only I missed the cottage and carried on walking - right out of the village and down to the main road. I was only three at the time and it had been a half mile walk so I suppose I sat down on the verge and a car stopped and I got in ... the person driving didn't know where I had come from so he took me to the nearest village - someone there recognised me and they took me back to the village I lived in. I still remember to this day (nearly 50 years later) how when I got back to the village (I had been missing for an hour) everyone was out looking for me - I like to think that the same thing would happen today.

  2. Wow! That's a scary story and I would also like to hope that it would happen today, but sadly, it seems the odds aren't very good. It's a relief to hear when things turn out well and people rise to the occasion to do the right thing. It's great that you survived your adventure.