Published August 31, 2010
The last several evenings, I've been going for long walks with Paul. It is fun to spend the time together and the exercise doesn't hurt either one of us.
As we walk through downtown Lancaster, I find myself looking at the people we pass. There are all varieties. Some are hurrying. Some are relaxing on their porches. There are many different nationalities. Some smile and say "hello," while others avoid meeting my eyes or even glancing at me. Some seem fearful or timid. Others appear cocky. Some are walking to get somewhere, while others are simply strolling along.
After a group of three teens called out a pleasant greeting to us, Paul looked at me in surprise. "They greeted us before we even greeted them," he said. "That's very unusual."
I agreed that it was nice, but told him that I had been smiling at the boys. Whether it was my smile or the fact that we were an "older" couple obviously out for an exercising walk, they seemed free to initiate a greeting.
It was nice.
Of course, then I had to admit to Paul that my friendly attitude while we walk had an ulterior motive. I've read that one safety tip is to meet the eyes of strangers. If I let a potential mugger know that I have seen him, he is less likely to attack. He knows that I will be able to identify him. He doesn't register fear in me and he doesn't sense that I will be an intimidated and easy target.
We are told to love people, to reach out to people and to treat them as we would like to be treated. A side benefit is that we can relax with our own smiles, while putting a protective shield around ourselves. God gave us many guidelines for living. Those guidelines make us pleasant to other people, but also enrich each of our lives.
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