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“Stepford Bushes” and Other Things to Ponder

Fair warning – this post is about a serious subject – it’s about safety and people being connected to each other. A sometimes somber topic, but stay with me please, because it’s important.

Recently, I was working happily on my computer at home and out of the corner of my eye I saw something or someone, I wasn’t sure, outside in the common space of my yard. There he was, a “yard guy”. Normally this is not alarming to see, but this day it was. Why?

Well, for one thing, he was ON STILTS! Walking high as can be on rickety, wooden stilts with leather leg straps tying his legs and his life precariously to these devices. As if that wasn’t alarming enough, he was wielding a gas-powered extended BUSH SAW, yes, a power saw…. ON STILTS! I am not kidding. You read that correctly.

My first thought was: “Thank God that man isn’t MY son!” The fact is, though, he’s somebody’s son, which was my next thought.

As I looked on, I realized he was cutting the high tops of the bushes that lined the stucco barrier between common spaces. And just to be clear, I’ll say it again; he was doing this with a bush saw while walking on stilts. I soon saw the ‘wisdom’, or rather, the folly of his duty. The barrier fence is 8 feet high and the covenants of our lovely deed restricted community require that ‘certain standards of landscaping aesthetics be maintained’.

What is the price for having your community perfect? Are “Stepford bushes” worth a human life? (Google the movie: “Stepford Wives”).

Is it just me, or doesn’t this seem out of touch with the proportion of danger? To me, this behavior was just plain whacky! Why is this yard maintenance practice acceptable? It’s not, as I later found out.

Rather than startle the man – who was using all his powers of concentration to stay alive – I suppressed the urge to run outside and demand that he stop. Instead, my action was to alert the property management company and ask for a safety check on this procedure with a response back to me. I closed my message by asking the same question: “Would you want a loved one on stilts with a bush saw doing this?”

The nice thing about keeping each other safe is that not only is it the ‘right thing to do’, in many instances it also keeps ourselves and loved ones safe too. If you stop someone from falling into a pothole while texting and walking on a crowded street, or support legislature to stop texting while driving, you could be saving not only their lives – you could be saving your own life, or someone you love – from them!

Connectivity, what does that mean?

Enough has been written about our inter-relatedness and the moral concept for being responsible for each other, beginning with the ancient wisdom found in religious books and writings to John Guar’s play: “Six degrees of Separation”; a principle of human connectivity that was later proven in real life experiments. We are all intrinsically touched by what the other person does, aren’t we?

I was fortunate in my past to have worked for a fabulous company that promoted a strong safety culture. That culture later morphed to include not only employee safety, but our connectivity and responsibility to each other. The company cultivated a workplace that was safe for all employees; a place where employees should be concerned not only for the well-being of themselves, their loved ones and their fellow employees and families, but also concerned for the safety of total strangers. With over 60,000 employees, this truly was ‘six degrees of separation’ being put into company practice. It was simply called “Caring”.  A noble effort in such a large entity normally expected to be disconnected. They got it. The result was safer employees; therefore a safer world.

Mother Teresa once said: “If we have no peace in our lives it’s because we have forgotten we are all connected.”  I hope you can find a way to remember this as you go about your days. Maybe yours, and therefore everyone’s life depends upon it.


Question: Do you think it’s YOUR responsibility to be concerned for your neighbor’s safety? How about a total stranger?

Check out this link to understand more about this principle of human connectivity: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/six-degrees-of-separation

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