Watching a seemingly nervous young boy get his first hair cut, it occurred to me that if this had been in a small town, I might know him. If I had known him, I would have encouraged him by telling him how handsome his first haircut made him look, just like I would say to my own grandson.
The impersonal thought of moving through experiences in our neighborhoods as if we are in a bubble and should not interact, has become a standard attitude when we are amongst people we do not know. Standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in a waiting room can oftentimes be a silent, and perhaps uncomfortable, encounter. We may even have experienced those that operate as if they are the only ones in the room and show no regard for others.
Knowing that we are sharing a moment in space together and that we have an opportunity to brighten our day or someone else’s, could be recorded today as an act of random kindness. This would have been a standard part of small town living. After all, to ignore our neighbors would be rude, right?
The statement, “It takes a village to raise a child”, has new meaning when you think of taking a moment and encouraging a nervous child or responding to a community tragedy. We tend to think this statement means we must carry some responsibility beyond simply looking out for the welfare of others in the same way we would want our neighbors to look out for us.
A small town attitude reflects the value of interacting with people that is respectful because they share our community. When we look out only for ourselves, and our neighbors flounder, it affects our whole community. Even the smallest gestures may encourage success, bonding, and ultimately a healthier community.
As that little boy stood waiting for his father to pay for the hair cut, displaying insecurity about his new look, I said, “You look so handsome.” His face lit up, along with everyone’s in the shop. Seemed like the right thing to do. And for a moment, it benefited many more people than just that little boy.