t has recently struck me that one of the kindest things we can ever do for anyone is a wellness check on them. This kind of check doesn’t have to be one only done by police officers on elders. When was the last time you checked in on a vulnerable neighbor, friend or family member just to make sure they were okay today?
A case in point, I love to see in the movies how, during some disaster like a coming storm, younger folks seem to always be checking in on their senior neighbors as if it were the most natural thing. However, I have found myself asking, how often do wellness checks actually happen in today’s wary, distracted society?
Often, people cannot be troubled even to know the names of their neighbors, let alone do “wellness checks” on them. It is also true that, while we may have no trouble checking in on friends and family, the thought of checking on anyone else who falls outside of that category – aka “strangers,” even if they are our neighbors – may seem unnecessary and, even, scary.
There are single parents and victims of domestic violence that understand the value of being friendly with their neighbors, in case of emergencies. But couldn’t we all benefit from being a bit more neighborly? Here, we can reflect on that golden rule to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” In the event of an emergency, if I were in need, I sure wouldn’t want to be perceived as just some “stranger” to be ignored by my neighbors, and, probably, neither would you. Historical evidence shows that a sense of interdependence and exchange supported the survival of our tribal ancestors.
We may like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient folks who get through life alone, thanks to our own life plans. However, a more grateful perspective invites us to trace how the kindness of others have always impacted us throughout our lives, such as the kindness of neighbors, travelers, health care workers, teachers, coworkers, customer service reps, etc. Some of these people may not have been all that personally well-known to us at the time of their kind deeds, if you really think about it. So there’s no reason to think that everyone in the world beside you and your family and friends is just some dark “stranger” best left alone. Sadly, there are plenty of upstanding people who think this way, even if they will not admit it. A more exciting possibility is to consider that neighbors can be worth knowing and caring about. For example, that “stranger” to whom you usually don’t pay any attention in your daily routine could end up being your friend someday.
As a final thought, it would be so great to see a kinder America actually happen beyond the silver screen. Might there be anyone such as widows, elders, single parents, a struggling friend or family member, etc., who could use a little hello or a wellness check from you today?
You never know when you might be someone’s “angel” dropping in at just the right time, or when someone will be that for you.
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