A long time ago there was a story in the news. Nowadays there are, unfortunately, so so many stories of isolation in the news. But this one stayed with me all this time, because I knew this story, like many others, could have had a different ending. In this story an old lady was burgled, and fearing for her life she hid in her airing cupboard.....for 24 hours. She died a few days later in hospital.
Like all cases of such isolation I felt a sense of outrage.
Why had no-one helped her?
Why had no-one noticed she wasn't around?
Why had no-one seen the burglars enter the house?
Maybe someone had, but we seem to live, more and more, in a world that ignores the needs of others.
What seems to be missing is a sense of community.
Communities are vital. They help to build connections between ourselves and they encourage us to help others. A sense of community lifts the feelings of loneliness that many people feel in today's ever more isolated world. The fastest way to reduce crime - build a community. The best way to keep our children safe - build a community. The most effective way to ensure our elders are cared for and not lonely - build a community.
Our communities have been devastated by recent events, but even before the pandemic we were becoming more and more isolated due to the nature of our lifestyles.
What do we mean by community? A community is a group of people who share an identity. Being part of a community also means sharing, participating and having a common fellowship.
It is very interesting to watch children when they start a new school. Each child will try and figure out to which group they belong - the trendy group, the bullies, the scientists or the arty group. And when the children have become settled in their new group, they never venture very far. The groups remain separate and far removed from each other. This separation can foster prejudice, mockery and even hatred. As children it is difficult to understand and appreciate the differences in each one of us. But as adults, we no longer have the excuse of youthful ignorance.
The world is one huge community, or it should be. We do all share one identity - that of the human race. We are becoming so disconnected from each other that we walk blindly past a woman being raped, thinking only that it is none of our business or pretending to ourselves that the couple are probably making love and wouldn't appreciate being disturbed. We turn away from neighbours who are in trouble or refuse to answer the door in case we may have to give of our time and energy. We are being taught to hate others who share different values from us or to avoid those who don’t look like us.
But hopefully healing communities are different.
When we are initiated into Reiki we talk of joining the Reiki community. And it is wonderful that we feel a sense of connection to other Reiki healers. But we need to reach further – to those with whom we have no Reiki connection. Reiki is such a wonderful energy that we are naturally drawn to others who share in that warm and loving energy. But we must never do this to the exclusion of others, especially those with whom we have no or little connection. This group may have the most to teach us.
Reiki societies talk of building Reiki communities on a local, national and international scale. And it is an admirable aim, but we must be certain we are more than just a Sunday worshipper, who then goes on to ignore their faith and its teachings for the rest of the week. Being a good neighbour means inconveniencing ourselves for the sake of someone else who is in need. It doesn’t require a large sacrifice – just a genuine smile has the ability to reach someone’s heart.
We must find more time for the elderly - learn to enjoy their relaxed pace of life and stories of an earlier time. We must find more time for children – playing with them will help us connect once more with our own childlike innocence. The rewards are endless for child and adult. We must have more energy for our friends - to really sit down and listen to their problems, their needs and joys and sorrows.
Too many people have no time for others....so busy wrapped up in their own troubles, their own small world; thinking it is the only life. To reach out and help another person, even simply to connect with them by saying good morning can help you forget your own problems for a short while. Listening to someone else can also help put your own life into perspective.
When we know our neighbours there is little room for fear in the relationship. Fear arises through ignorance, and tolerance and caring arises through knowledge.
To get to know our neighbours and to see how others live, can only help us in our quest for closer ties within our village, town or city.
Let's open our eyes and see beyond our doorstep. Step out of the fear messages and see that there is a big world out there waiting to be our friend.