Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jan. 22, 2006 -- A community should be built on trust and friendship

There used to be a day when we knew our neighbors.

Maybe we had them over for barbecues, entertained their children or yelled at their dogs.

Our kids played army and hide-andseek and built tree forts from leftover lumber scavenged from dumpsters and freight yards.

The neighborhood was allowed to come into the backyard and jump on the trampoline.

We borrowed cups of sugar and tree trimmers.

The tomatoes from our gardens became salsa for the widow lady at church.

Our favorite lasagna recipe came from our buddy’s mother-in-law.

And it was always the best, maybe because we knew it had history and we knew where it came from.

Those days are gone.

We are no longer allowed to know what our neighbors are doing.

It’s none of our business.

We stay inside and watch movies on DVD.

The game we used to watch in our friends’ basement is now recorded on TiVo so we can stay at home and send e-mail and text messages on the computer.

Our children walk around with hand-held games.

Cell phones are banned at school.

MP3 players have to be locked up when we go to the club.

The other day, as I was coming out of the movie theater with my wife, I saw two young people, obviously on a date.

Each was talking on a cell phone — probably to somebody else, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they were talking to each other.

When I was a kid, only rich people had a “private” telephone line.

The rest of us shared a party line, sometimes with as many as six other homes.

If we wanted to make a call, we always had to wait.

And usually we listened in.

It was just kind of an accepted fact that whatever you said on the phone was probably going to be heard by somebody you probably didn’t know.

Successful communities, communities just like Troy, Ohio, U.S.A., or anywhere else in this great country, are built on friendship and trust.

It takes a lot of other things as well, but friendship and trust are the key ingredients to making a community work.

I enjoy walking into Marsh and having people say hello to me.

I enjoy watching an out-of-focus movie at the Mayflower and chatting to other people in the theater while it gets fixed.

It’s enjoyable to chat with the guy at the hardware store or the waitress at Frisch’s or the mailman when he comes by in the afternoon.

There seems to a movement to withdraw from the people we love and trust, our neighbors and friends.

I understand that in this world of changing technologies, wireless communication, Internet banking and electronic identification that we should be concerned about our security.

Identity theft is a real problem, but it’s a product of a community that doesn’t know each other.

Are we concerned that Big Brother is watching over us because we are doing something wrong? I’m not suggesting we turn our lives over to the G-men or compromise any rights, but for heaven’s sake, let’s stop the paranoia.

It’s no way to live.

Sure, we all have things we need to hide and keep secure.

But we cannot live in a community where trust and friendship are no longer important.

I hear nothing but complaints from people who are angry that an Internet company wants to know the details of our lives, that the government is spying on us, that our privacy has been invaded — then I see people who stand in the checkout lane with a cell phone and argue with their wife for all to hear.

We celebrate when the FBI or CIA discovers a terrorist plot, but we complain that they’re listening in on our conversations.

Guess what, that’s what we asked our government to do, that’s what they’ve always done.

It’s the job of our elected officials and the agencies they set up to keep us safe and moving forward.

When a police officer drives by, do you feel like he’s watching you or do you wave and say hello? Let’s not go overboard with this right-to-privacy dogma or pretty soon we’ll find ourselves alone, wondering who’s watching us.

David Kennard is the publisher and editor of the Troy Daily News. You can send him e-mail at