A couple of nights ago, it was rather late in the evening when the doorbell rang. Joy answered it, and I heard her talking with a man whose voice I didn't recognize. Her end of the conversation sounded like politely getting rid of a door-to-door salesman, but it was close to 10:00 at night. The man was carrying a pillowcase in which he had a PlayStation which he was trying to sell for $50. Joy was nice about it, but she turned him away.
We immediately started talking with each other about our desire to help him. Didn't we know someone who would like the game system? Did we even have $50 in cash lying around anywhere? Would it be insulting to him if we just ran after him and offered him a little something without requesting his PlayStation in return?
But cynicism and suspicion crept into our questions pretty quickly. How did we know it was even his PlayStation? What is he going to be using the money for exactly? Why is he going door to door so late to sell a single item? We decided it was probably best for us to be thankful for what we have and share it generously but wisely. Buying a game system out of a pillowcase from a peddler late in the evening somehow didn't seem wise.
The next evening, we got a call from one of our neighbors. A couple of houses down the street from us, a mother and her two children returned home from dinner to be accosted by a man with a gun. Apparently, he was trying to get into their house. I don't know how the situation got resolved as safely as it seemed to, or why the man left. We were getting our information third-hand, and the story had likely changed a bit. Still, the basic description of the man matched our peddler. It was unsettling.
Had our PlayStation salesman been carrying a gun? Was it a ploy to get into our home? Why wouldn't he have just forced his way in instead of creating a sales pitch? And why did Joy even open the door to a stranger so late at night?
Well, the last one seems like an obvious question, but it implies that we could keep someone from coming into our home just by keeping the door closed. We have an alarm system and we keep the doors closed, but if someone wanted to get into our home badly enough, they could. And although night time can be a little more creepy than broad daylight, there's no reason to assume safety just because the sun is out. Ultimately, life is a rather fragile thing. We are never truly secure. It all comes down to a trust that we share with one another as part of a common society.
I don't know what to make of our salesman. But I do know that there are plenty of reasons to live in fear. Good reasons. Logical reasons. But that doesn't seem like much of a life to me. I would rather choose to trust, even believing that I'll be disappointed from time to time. I believe my life will be fuller and richer for it.