Wednesday, November 24, 2010

taking what is not given

On his way out the door to school, my younger son encouraged me to lock the porch door, "even when you are at home." Around this small city, there has been a rash of pretty-dumb break-ins and thefts -- some of them while the occupants were at home.

Down the block, a couple with two girls left their door unlocked while the girls were home and they went out. Someone broke in and left with a purse, a wallet and a computer. Next door to that couple, Joan, a feisty woman in her 80's, had her son-in-law install motion-detecting lights outside the house.

My son's admonition comes from the fact that I generally leave doors unlocked and from his mother's insistence that doors be locked. He's scared of the unseen threat ... sort of like the desired reactions to the government with its terrorist incantations.

I have been robbed in this way in the past and know the reactions well ... somewhere between fear and rage, between wanting to hide under the bed and longing to beat the perpetrator to a pulp. When someone breaks into your house, a host of assumptions and hopes are directly challenged -- "home," safety, possessiveness ... the list is long and interlocking.

But I was thinking about my son's admonition and I imagine I'll put it in  his ear when he comes home from school: For all the damage, whether real or imagined, anyone might concoct on their own behalf, what damage do you suppose the perpetrator does to him- or herself? I'm not talking about a smarmy, turn-the-other-cheek approach. Just literally ... what is the effect of taking what is not given?

Sure, I'll lock the doors on behalf of those who think it is necessary. But I will also do it on behalf of whatever intruder may be sizing up the house in which I live with my assumptions and hopes.

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