“You never know how it feels until it happens to you”

This quote could apply to many scenarios in life, but it is one that claims more gravitas since a recent brush with fate.  Before I continue to enlighten you on my ‘call to arms’, I beg to ask, do you know your neighbours?

Perhaps you live in a ‘safe’ area and have done for years; where children play in the street with a carefree attitude, neighbours gossip about other neighbours poised on the wall separating their doors and street parties are held liberally throughout the year to encourage a neighbourhood bonding session over home-baked goodies & bottles of beer. A blissful picture isn’t it?  But when you tuck yourself into bed as the moon rises to gaze its melancholy face onto your abode, your street becomes the playground of other creatures, not as friendly as the locals and far less civil.

This could be the exact description of my own neighbourhood, a charming street which I fell in love with from the moment I walked down it and into the open arms of my (soon to be) front door.  Such a giddy spell was I put under that it could do no wrong in my eyes.  I sigh wistfully when leaving the house in the morning and smile with familiar affection when I return.  In addition, I live with delightful people who are considerate, buy each other an occasional treat if out shopping for themselves and many a glass has been clinked over an evening indoors.  This euphoric state was harshly shaken out from me when our threshold was violated by an intruder.  Luckily nothing was taken and the sheer surprise of  my movement in the house led the unknown person to bolt out the front door, quite literally a ‘thief in the night’ however this was a fateful event which may have left me unscathed physically, but the mental state now left on high alert.

It’s as though my own previous experiences engaged inside me like muscle recognition and I reacted with military precision.  Police were called, housemates were spoken with, locks changed and fixed.  And let me confirm dear readers that this was by no means an incident of our own folly.  It is easy to suspect ‘Oh, but surely the door was not locked properly’ and various other assumptions.  A common human condition is to rationalise in times of crisis.  We need to have reasons and justifications for bad things happening.  All manner of speculation then occurs and out of these, conspiracy theories are born.  Alas, we should desist from this behaviour at once.  We ask ‘Why me?’ but really, it’s more a case of ‘Why not’.  No manner of risk-analysis can prevent something from happening if it is meant to happen.  Precautions can be taken of course and you can reduce risks to adapt to the wild world we live in however rather than expecting to stop something occur altogether, it is far more realistic to aim for the least impact from an incident than expect the impossibility of absolute zero.

In the media we are exposed to tabloid headers; grizzly stories or emotionally testing tales that turn us into club welding peasants, demanding justice from those in authority and casting dispersions on the state of the world we live in today. ‘Things have changed!’ and ‘It never used to happen’ start being bandied around in conversation, with a self-righteous nod leading on to the assertive ‘I told you so!’ statement. But there is truth in one of these, things HAVE changed and they will continue to do so until the end of time.  Human hardship is not a new subject matter and throughout the centuries there has been a balance of golden years and deep depressions.  Such is life.  Nostalgia is best saved for the later years when you reminisce on cherished friendships and past loves; day to day life bears little resemblance to the last as we are in a constant motion of evolution.  New technologies develop at a dizzying rate and possessions are coveted evermore, in particular when comparing yourself to peers.  More of the world’s inhabitants own a smart phone than a toothbrush. I could continue animatedly on the subject of materialism however this is not my primary concern.  My concern is more that these ‘distractions’ are too much like dangling carrots before our eyes, tempting us away from the reality that your personal safety, YOU is the most important asset out of anything you own.

We shy behind newspapers on public transportation and walk briskly in unknown areas or on the way to work and these are understandable displays of behaviour dependant on mental state (early in the morning with lack of coffee, being female nearby a large group of hooded men).  What we should be doing is pay special attention to where all our outside woes or desires are left at the doorstep; our homes.  The roof over your head (should you be lucky to have one) should be the dearest place in your heart.  This is your domain, your kingdom and like the Lion protecting the pride, you should do the same, regardless of whom you live with.  The face you may put on to the outside world can be left at the door and you can strut around this palace (size regardless) without a care, knowing that it accepts you and welcomes your head to lay gently on your pillow.

This is why you must remember to never take it for granted, as the creatures of the night I described earlier (although please note they are more than capable of skulking around during daylight too) will always be hovering, looking for an opportunity to violate this paradise.  The occasional inebriated night forgetting to lock the door could be one too many and you will chastise the perpetrator or feel entirely vulnerable but it will not have altered the fact that what is done, is done.

So be vigilant, consider others around, converse with your neighbours (starting with a smile of course!) so they know your name (if you have trouble remembering theirs simply write it down!), consider the security of your kingdom and never ‘forget’ to close a window or become utterly repugnant by claiming ‘It will never happen to me’.  It possibly might, but of course, it preferably might not.  And if it does, always call the Police.  Comments that it makes no difference or what’s the point are entirely uneducated and ignorant sayings.  They deserve a swift telling off right then and there.  Like charity, every penny makes a difference and with crime, a stockpile of incidents are collated by the Constables to gain a broader reach on targeted areas or linking common factors to ensure all evidence can eventually lead to the source.  The Police themselves may not catch the perpetrator on your day, but maybe one day they will and it will be one less ruffian haunting our sanctuaries.  More will spring up as with each birth born, not everyone can be as morally conscious as you.  But perhaps next time you will at least be prepared, as not all visitors are invited.

So I implore you, in particular with colder weather and with festive celebrations upon us, there is always a flipside to the smiles we all share.  Never let it dampen your spirits, simply pause for thought on occasion to make sure you locked that lock or closed that window.

Prevention is indeed better than cure.