For health reasons, I have to walk four miles every day. I hate the treadmill. I prefer walking in the neighborhood. As I lecture around the nation, I've had a chance to see many neighborhoods.
I noticed something as I walk the small towns of America, the suburbia, and away from downtown.
I walk and see no one. No people on the street. No one sitting on the porch and conversing with the neighbor across the street.
That is not what I see in other countries if they are not developed.
Narrow streets. People sitting on the porch and shouting and conversing with the neighbors. Children playing. Women shouting from windows for a child to come home for supper.
In America: silence. Ghost towns. No people. From time to time, a car will pass by. Someone jogging will pass you without saying a word. What saves the day are the people walking their dog. They might smile. Some say hello. Thank God for the dogs or we would have no human contact.
I remember my childhood. Came home from school. Ate and hurried down the stairs to play soccer on the street. No money for a ball? No problem. We made one from old torn socks. Came evening, mothers appeared at the windows of their homes and started calling for the children to come home for dinner.
It was a noisy neighborhood. Alive.
I walk miles in America. Ghost towns.
Where are the children? Watching television? Playing computer games?
Not allowed in the street. Someone might snatch them away.
Where are the people? Working. They come home exhausted from fighting the traffic and the long strenuous day in the office. They take a drink. Watch the news, have dinner, and off to bed. Day after day. Month after month.
I remember my childhood. The house was always filled with people. Friends. Neighbors who came visiting. Or to borrow sugar or oil or whatever.
I remember our meals. No one dared to eat by himself. He had to wait for the whole family to gather around the table. And Friday night was for the extended family to gather and sing after the super. And laugh. And kid each other. You could hear the laughter and the music coming out of different homes if you walked the neighborhood.
In America? Silence. Ghost towns.
Rich but so lonely.