Living community

I saw the most amazing example of what community can be the other day – on a crime drama!

This particular episode of the programme involved a crime on an army base. A man had been found dead, and his wife had to be informed.

A smart, black car drew up in front of a row of houses. Two men in sombre suits got out and walked up to one front door. They rang the bell, and a figure appeared behind the frosted-glass window. The camera angle switched as the door opened, to view the scene from behind the newly bereaved woman. Even as the two men held up their identity cards, from down the street in the background 3 women were visible, running as fast as they could from their homes in order to get to their friend.

They knew what this dark car and these dark suits signified, and they dropped everything for the sake of the hurting woman.

I thought this was the most incredible scene – a beautifully elegant, concise piece of storytelling from the director, and a really powerful example of what it means to bear one another’s burdens, to weep with those who mourn and to be part of a body.

You could ask why they were being so nosy, how they came to be looking out the window at just the right time, but it’s that kind of thinking that has led to so many in our towns and cities being so isolated. We don’t want to pry, we don’t want to interfere, so we sit behind closed doors quietly falling apart. A 2005 study suggested that up to 60 people per week die alone in their homes in the UK. Many more struggle along, lonely, perhaps depressed, possibly afraid – and it is not just the elderly; think of young mums, stuck in the house with small children day in and day out; think of those who aren’t physically isolated, but who bury their problems and needs so deeply that no-one would ever know they needed help.

We’ve told ourselves that self-sufficiency is good, and in the process have forgotten that interdependency is better. Then when the time comes that we do need a shoulder to cry on, it is too late, everyone has drawn their own curtains, and can’t see the dark car bringing the dark tidings.

Some communities have clearly managed to find the balance; let’s learn from them and take steps to draw back our own curtains and look out for the needs of others.

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