I went to lunch with a friend last week. We met in a small town diner. We talked for two and a half hours, which means that at some point we went from lunch to afternoon break.
Our previous longest conversation was about 10 minutes, so this was fun. We were able to compare notes on our similar situations. He was able to help me understand how my place relates to his place. It was the ideal kind of real-time extended conversation. It was local.
The coffee mug was local, too. The form is classic diner, but the text on it is incredibly local. In fact, at least one of the ads shown doesn’t even have an area code for the phone number. If you wanted to order me flowers, you would have to make some inferences (not the least of which is, of course, that I would like flowers).
I’m struggling to understand how to be publicly local. To have real relationships with real people wherever they live.
Here’s why it is a challenge:
I living with a calling and desire to love my neighbor like I love myself. Our tendency is to sort through and limit who our neighbor is. We like to make the definition of neighbor conform as much as possible to the image in our mirror. And we like to make that circle pretty small. And, when that calling was first uttered, conversations were all geographically local.
But that small circle and geographic localness isn’t an option for me, somehow. I mean, I’m wanting to understand how the fact that local extends around the world relates to the reality that neighbors can therefore extend around the world. I’m wanting to figure out how to not be committed only to people who are like me (or who like me). I’m wanting to figure out how to have long conversations when that is impossible.
I have no questions about the significance of interactions between people who never talk. We can, without ever exchanging voices, change each other’s lives. Not just make money, not just make people smile or cry, but fundamentally change the direction and outcome of lives.
Which is the point of love.