Love thy neighbour

I love how “small town” Te Awamutu feels, especially when I read the local newspaper.

I find it encouraging that we have a few constables who care so much about our town and the people who live here that they would take the time to update us, weekly, on what they have been doing.

Ryan Fleming outside Te Awamutu Police Station.

Samuel Pullenger

Although we are a growing town, we still have those “small town” characteristics. However, I am saddened by what the constables often have to report in their weekly segment – car theft, family harm and other burglary often coming out on top. These incidents, especially when they happen to you, can make you feel unsafe in your own town. We begin to feel more wary of the people around us than we would usually be. We can be tempted to follow the Trumpian way of building higher walls and adopting greater security. Although it is not wrong to build fences and put up security lights or cameras around our properties, I do not believe this actually gets to the root of the issue.

The “small town” feel is the feeling that you know everyone. Everyone is either a friend, a neighbour or a neighbour’s friend. This is what makes a small town feel safe. Not because everyone abides by the law, but because everyone knows each other and cares for each other.

One of the Biblical writers was a man named Paul – he wrote a lot of the New Testament. Paul is well known for creating new words as he tried to instruct the Church on how they should act as followers of Jesus. Many of the new words that Paul created began with the prefix “co” which really means “with”. The idea is that following Jesus cannot be done alone; we are called to be in and create community. Christians believe that we live our best lives when we work together in community, guided by the Holy Spirit. But community is a hard thing to foster. It is not simply about smiling at the person walking past on the street. To foster community we need to be open to building relationships with the other; with those who we do not know, and with those who are different than we are. When we cross boundaries of difference, in relationships, we are recognising the dignity and value that the other holds simply for being human.

As we read about the crime in our town of Te Awamutu and evidence of it is projected across social media, I want to encourage us not to isolate further.

Senior constable Deb Hann encouraged us, in her recent segment, “If you hear a car alarm go off in your neighbourhood, pay attention and check”. I encourage us to go further, meet your neighbours, talk with them and build relationships. The more we are able to foster community among ourselves, the longer we will not only be able to hold our “small town” vibe, but also truly experience the “small town” safety.

Senior Constable Deb Hann – On the Beat

 

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