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What Happened to Relationships?

My wife volunteers for our neighborhood associations.  Twice a year it issues a newsletter and the key activities it sponsors are a neighborhood garage sale, a Halloween parade and a holiday luminaries event.  The driving purpose behind the association is stimulation relationships between neighbors.

As we took an evening stroll we started to ponder whether the association is really serving its purpose any longer and whether it even can.
Elderly lady shaking hands at the door

We used to have “Street Reps” for each segment of the neighborhood who would hand deliver the newsletters so that they could make connections as they dropped them off.  I said “used to” because the “old guard” who remember the time when neighbors were neighbors have no one to pass the torch to.  People are just too busy.

Many of the newsletter were left on the doorstep last year, because nobody is home anymore.  Both parents are working, taxiing kids between activities and dinners are eaten on the run.  Even on weekends it’s rare to catch someone for a chat at the door.  Actually, some of the remaining “Street Reps” prefer it that way.  They too are busy, I mean,  there are projects to get done, errands to run and to-do lists to check off. 

Yet people crave relationships.  We were made relationships, for interdependence rather than independence.  Cancel a neighborhood or church event because there were no volunteers to organize it and brace yourself for the outcry.  People have the need to relate, but don’t want to invest the time to reap the reward.

What happened to relationships?

The book Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything is more true today than when James Gleick wrote the book 8 years ago.  We are so busy we take they buy-out option on the box of fundraiser candy rather than have the kids sell the candy bars.  We go to activities but rarely arrive on time and leave early because we need to be somewhere else.  Mom shuttles one kid to one event while dad is at the other with the second one.  Parents are on cell phones on the sidelines and if a sibling does in fact make it, they are in another world on the game console or music player because we aren’t modeling relationships any more.

Quantity trumps quality, convenience trumps purpose, efficiency trumps authenticity, and busyness trumps relationships.  Yesterday John C. Maxwell profoundly tweeted “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”

A while back I was having lunch with my wife at a Panera Bread  store and a family of five arrived.  They picked 2 separate table so that each of them had room to open their laptops.  I kid you not, mom, dad, two daughters and a son, each had their own laptop open while the family had lunch “together”.

So how are you doing? 

Are you making time for relationships?

Do you know your neighbor 3 or 4 doors down and the other side of the street?

How many times each week do you sit down for dinner with every family?

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