Originally Published: June 19, 2008 10:52 a.m.
A few years ago, I received a phone call from a reader who wanted to publish a letter complaining about his neighbor's yard.
The caller said the yard, after being neglected for months, was a dump. It was the neighborhood eyesore, he complained, cluttered with lumber and other building materials.
I politely told the caller that it sounded like a private dispute better solved between two adults, and not a matter to be aired publicly in the pages of the newspaper.
The caller said the situation had gone beyond a private concern -- he went door to door, asking his neighbors to sign a petition against the homeowner. He had hoped his efforts would lead to fines or some other legal action.
As it turned out, the caller failed to visit one home: the neighbor with the unsightly yard.
I learned that the neighbor's wife had become ill, and died. The hefty medical bills from her illness forced the neighbor back to work, leaving the home improvement project he and his wife had planned to finish together left undone.
It saddened me to think that in a different era or circumstance, that same neighbor might have rallied the other neighbors, not to sign a petition of complaint, but to assemble a work force to help their neighbor finish the project and clean the yard.
Since then I have been reminded that such times of compassion and caring are not all lost, and that sometimes we lose sight of the good things happening around us and the blessings that belong to us.
Our tendency to focus on the trivial details of life becomes most evident when we, as a community, learn that one of our children have been hurt or killed in a crime.
Last week, a 7-year-old Prescott Valley boy riding his bicycle was seriously injured when a car struck him and left the scene. Police have charged a 23-year-old man with driving under the influence, aggravated assault, failure to stop at an injury accident scene, endangerment and intentional injury to another.
As a parent, it is impossible for me to imagine how anyone could harm a child, let alone leave him there bleeding and crying alone on the road. It angers me.
At times like this it is natural to feel anger and want to strike out at someone we think should be punished. In this case, there are many factors that point to poor choices by the suspect - and judging by the comments at the end of the online articles on this Web site there are many in our community who are ready to cast stones. The issue of immigration has also been raised.
But such a tragedy should also remind us of what is truly important in our lives. Whether it's a neighbor who has lost his dear wife, or an innocent child struck by a car, all the bickering and petty arguments we may have engaged in are brought into perspective. We remember life's frailty -- our own mortality -- and we should feel the urge to be more compassionate, quicker to forgive, slower to judge and more humbled by how little we are in control.
And that's where it starts -- when we can push aside the static of the world and cultivate a desire to help and forgive, not just in times of tragedy, but in our everyday lives and relationships.
Before we jump to judgments and start condemning, let us place our prayers and energy first into what can be done to help this little boy heal from the wounds he has received - both seen and unseen - and also his family as they strive to endure and overcome.