Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

‘A house is a man’s castle’ and so like the castles of old we surround them with fortifications
Locks bar the gates to prevent the approach of the barbarian hordes that loot and pillage
Cameras act as sentinels watching every boundary where someone might approach
Alarms await as klaxons to summon those who come with badges and guns to defend us
And we sit alone, separated from the dangerous world in the cage we built to keep it outside
Signs declare that this is a neighborhood where the citizens are on a hair trigger alert
‘Good walls make good neighbors’ declared the neighbor in Robert Frost’s Mending Wall
But perhaps we, like Frost’s neighbor who declares this, are merely cutting ourselves off
From the world of people who would otherwise pass through on their journey
Visitors who we might invite inside, to break bread with and to listen to their stories
Instead we sit alone searching our screens for the connections we used to make at table
Entering the sanctuaries we made from the modern world, only to wonder if perhaps
The neighborhood watch, instead of creating a place where our children could play in safety,
Instead became a place where we watch one another from our separate cells longingly
If our homes which became castles were really only dungeons in disguise, our own Alcatraz
Where the locks and bars and cameras keep us in, and the rest of the world out
Like animals trapped in some bizarre zoo so that the neighborhood can watch
As we live out these lives that are no longer worth living surrounded by the suffocating safety
Of the world that our fear locked us inside, disconnected from our neighbors and the world
On the other side of the walls, ingesting the worry that comes to us every hour from our screens
Telling us that the world is a dangerous place and that we are safest locked inside our homes
Where ‘good walls make good neighbors’ who no longer cross the property line
But instead remain as the neighborhood watch, watching for signs of life that approach our walls
So that it might be escorted back to its own place, its own home, its own cage
Lest some lion or tiger or bear might escape from its place in the exhibition

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