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    Life Outside the Box

    by Jane Stein

    Walking through the woods on a snowy day (with apologies to the good Mr. Frost)…well, actually walking through the city on a hot and humid day, my path as always took me by the little park.  I have described this park to you before.  It is the place where many of our town’s homeless congregate on bench’s to meet, chat, enjoy a bit of sun and safety.
    But this day, something was different.  I saw a few folks tossing Frisbees for their puppies, a few folks power walking in the middle of the park.  But what I did not see was one single solitary homeless person.  And more shocking was the other thing I did not see….one single solitary park bench!  Our town fathers (and mothers) in their infinite wisdom decided to remove all of the park benches from the three pocket parks located across from the three large churches and synagogues that often serve lunch for the homeless.  No benches, No homeless.  No homeless, No “noisequarrelsshoutingpushing.  Hum.
    My experiences walking by those little pocket parks two or three times a week have always been very pleasant.  No one has ever pushed, shoved or quarreled as I came by.  The most shouting I have ever heard is a “you go girl” or a “looking good today”.  Yes, I am not so naive as to believe that when the sun goes down it might not be quite so peaceful in these pocket parks  After all, these folks must jockey for the softest (really, is there such a thing?) bench to sleep on.  But SO WHAT!
    As I continued my walk, without the cheering squad urging me on, I got this image in my mind of a safe, sound, neat, clean, cozy box.  This is the box that each and every one of us live in.  It is a box filled with privilege.  I am not talking about the “privilege” of great wealth.  I am talking about the privilege of living a life well above the bottom three rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Of being able to live a life with our biological and physical needs met (food, shelter, warmth), our safety needs met, our belonging and love needs met.  Life inside the box is quite wonderful.
    And so as we all approach the coming days of awe, I believe that we should each take a moment of our time to think about whether or not we are doing all we can to help more people live a life in the box.  Are we volunteering our time and donating a bit of our treasure to help those living outside the box in our own neighborhoods, towns, country, overseas?  Are we keeping our covenant to repair the lives of those living outside the box in this tired old world?  Are we doing our very best to make this world just a little bit better…to help more people to have some kind of a happily ever after?
    I keep a copy of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs posted where I see it every single day to remind me that I am one of the truly luckiest women in the world.  As we approach the New Year of 5774 let’s all take a look at dear old Maslow and thank G-d once again for our lives inside the box.

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