‘I can walk with someone’

Elise Italiano Ureneck writes on her experience moving to Boston, and neighborhood life:

There is no shortage of weighty issues that need to be tackled — human trafficking, drug addiction, sexual abuse and corruption for starters. I often find myself feeling paralyzed by the depth and breadth of the burdens that people bear, of which I am made aware every time I reach for my phone.

My new reality—traveling on foot—has made me consider the merits of scaling back the scope of my responsibility, perceived or expected as it may be.

Excluding my newsfeeds, my world has gotten a lot smaller in radius. It extends only as far as I can walk in a day or as far as the subway can take me. And that reality has created opportunities for encounters with people in the flesh, whose burdens I can alleviate and whose joys I can share.

My regular route to the grocery store now puts me in touch with elderly pedestrians, many of whom need a hand carrying items or help crossing the street. I can’t fix the loneliness epidemic of an entire aging population, but I can walk with someone for half a mile to his bus stop.

And while I cannot rectify a complex and comprehensive epidemic of homelessness, my husband and I can stop every week after Mass and give a cup of coffee to Pat, a homeless man who hangs out at our T stop and likes to take jabs at my sports allegiances.

This is a good follow-on from yesterday’s piece on social and cultural trust. Ureneck provides an example of what greater personal concern looks like in practice, of the sort that can knit communities back together and provide the sort of trust and resiliency that makes a place great.

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