Yesterday a friend dropped me off at my house. Still sitting in her car, we watched a woman on my sidewalk. She carried a small package and a troubled expression. She walked up the sidewalk toward the house, then back. I confess, I asked my friend, “Can I just sit here a minute until she leaves?” Imagining she was collecting for something, or proselytizing, or selling. But then I had second thoughts and got out of the car, told her I lived there and asked if I could help her.
It turned out that she was trying to deliver the package in her hand. But our cat, Maddie, was lounging on the porch by the front door, and the woman was afraid to go onto the porch! Of course I took the package, and I went up and patted my old, fat, black cat scratching her back by rubbing on the concrete, as cats do. I laughed in my mind at the timid woman. But then I took another look at my kitty. She is large, solid black, with golden eyes, and it you don’t look on her with love you might say she looks evil. And she doesn’t get out of the way for anybody. I had a little sympathy for the plight of the delivery-woman.
This small story took my thoughts to those times that you see a group of slightly rowdy young people gathered together. Especially young men. Especially young men who don’t look like you. Do you cross the street, do you worry, do you get hyper-alert? Do you avoid that neighborhood in future? But what if you know one of them; maybe you taught him when he was little, or you work with his mom, or he volunteers to tutor at your school, or he’s a friend of your son? What then? Of course the whole group and how they talk and what they are doing appears different to you.
Perception. Use it wisely. Don’t let it steer you unnecessarily toward fear.