It has been many years since I watched Sesame Street, but I can still sing all the words to “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?” If I recall correctly, they would sing it before introducing a video clip about people who work at different occupations, or welcoming someone making a guest appearance on the show.
That led me to think of other people I wished I could have known personally. Robin Williams, for one. J.R.R. Tolkein. Jules Verne. Samuel Clemens. Emily Dickinson. Carl Sagan. Thomas Edison. Ben Franklin. I’m not sure I would have liked Martin Luther or John Calvin, but Balthazar Hübmaier I’d like to have known, and Thomas Helwys, and John Leland. The fact that this list is mainly men reminds me how the roles of women are often overlooked in history, but I suspect any one of these folks’ wives would have been just as interesting as they were. But wouldn’t it be nice to have known Susan B. Anthony, or Rosa Parks, or Sacagawea?
That brief meandering led to the place it should, the place of reminder that I’m surrounded by interesting people every day, people who have stories worth hearing and lives worth encouraging. I have neighbors that I don’t know by name, and students whose stories are amazing, and other people I know only through email. I’m sure I could profit by putting more effort into getting to know them better.
Who are the people in your neighborhood?