"Life was Hell in the town that didn’t trust.
Arguments were everywhere, from prices in the drugstore to where one sat in the movie theatre. Nothing was undisputed.
Parks had six-foot circles on the ground that kept families socially distanced from one another. Everyone was angry. Everyone was wary.
They all thought that the local market overcharged them on everything. Restaurants were suspect in having employees spitting in the food.
Any official looking car that drove the streets was suspect: the police, emergency vehicles, building inspectors to the garbage truck, it didn't matter. No one was above suspicion.
Families were all in constant turmoil. The divorce rate was high, children kept secrets from their parents, parents kept secrets from their children and siblings kept secrets from each other.
People changed houses often as broken relationships devastated homelife.
Children didn’t talk much or bring home friends anymore. They were fearful whenever an adult walked into their room. They were ushered about everywhere under the watchful eye of a hyper-vigilant adult.
Neighbors glared at each other through hardened windows. Security screens were bolted to the doorframes. Dogs barked constantly. It was a town afraid.
Schools had become centers of suspicion about questionable books and ideas. Teachers, once allies with parents, were now suspected enemies with subversive ideas.
It’s true that people waved or thinly smiled when you drove, but then they would memorize your license plate or take a picture with their cell phone as you drove away.
If someone looked different, dressed different, talked with an accent or just didn’t “fit in”, they were immediately suspect of all sorts of reprehensible thoughts and deeds, immediately guilty of “invading” one’s land.
And God help you if you were homeless... because no one else would.
Afraid of disease, filth and the curse of poverty, people avoided even looking at them. Townsfolk had no time to get involved in what looked like a dangerous situation.
Social gatherings, clubs and even parties were non-existent beyond the mass crowds at the local stadium. Proximity was tolerated there as a sign of team loyalty and patriotism. Most sports and entertainment events were viewed on TV or animated in video games, and many were excessively violent.
There was so much bad news it was dismissed as “Fake.” Global Warming, Racism, Inflation, and more swirled around as if in a swarm of locusts. Medical care, Senior care and Childcare costs were all prohibitive. And who knew what was really in the vaccines?
Elected officials were mistrusted most of all. Elections were all declared “rigged” even before election day.
And once in office, nothing they said or did was accepted on face value. “Freeloaders!...” some called them, others labeled them “Narcissists.”
People walked around armed, ready to settle any dispute with violence.
Only the police held any trust from the residents, but then only to their face. Behind their backs rumors swirled about how brutal they really were.
It was a town of suspicion and doubt, worry and anxiety that had infected everyone, even the local churches, with its virus of mistrust.
It fed on hate, anger and revenge, and it left bitterness, hopelessness and unhappiness in its wake.
It was the Town that couldn’t trust."
Questions to spark discussion:
Is this your town? ...our town?
Is this your life?
...the congregation you are a part of?
If you wanted to change it,
...what would you be willing to do?
What would it take to revive this town
.... your congregation,
..........from its soul-death
....and it's dark, solitary loneliness?