Changing the world begins with Northern Nevada
December 7, 2006
There’s a saying among journalists, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” It’s a humorous reminder that skepticism is among the most important traits a journalist can have. We are, after all, in an age where people have faked cancer to get others to give them money.
Fortunately, scoundrels are still in the minority, and you can find people doing good deeds all over town. That didn’t stop me from wondering what the motive was behind Richard Flyer’s letter in Thursday’s paper in which he encouraged people to recapture the holiday spirit.
Now, I’m not really so suspicious that I thought his group was in it to make money off that message. But I was curious about their goals.
Turns out they’re just people trying to change the world, starting with Northern Nevada.
I called Flyer and listened as he talked enthusiastically and at length about what he hopes will become a nationwide movement. Sometimes he sounded like a philosophy professor, other times a family counselor.
But he’s neither. Flyer, 47, is a single dad who owns a hyperbaric and wound-treatment center in Reno. He considers his true calling to be helping people connect to something larger than themselves. He began doing that about three years ago with a group he helped form, Conscious Community Network.
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As we talked, he directed me to their Web site and waited while I listened to an old movie clip he said perfectly summarizes the message they’re sending out this Christmas season. It was Gary Cooper in the 1941 film “Meet John Doe,” talking about the most important guy you’ll ever meet -your neighbor.
“You’re going to need him, and he’s going to need you,” Cooper said. “To most of you, your neighbor is a stranger, a guy with a barking dog and a high fence around it.”
The upshot is, meet your neighbors and you’ll destroy hate and prejudice. And the overriding message is that people are far more important than things.
“In our society, there is so much division among people,” Flyer said. It’s easier for many people to travel to another country than it is to walk a few steps to meet the neighbors.
“There’s the fear of taking the first step,” he said.
The idea is, once those figurative fences come down, the spirit will resonate through families, neighborhoods, cities, states and, finally, the world.
He’s not asking for money, but he wouldn’t mind if you went Christmas caroling.
That’s a centerpiece of the group’s Help Save Christmas Campaign. It’s not so much the singing as it the opportunity to meet neighbors. They detail several other ideas on their Web site to de-emphasize the materialism of Christmas and refocus on the traditional values of communities.
They haven’t won the world over with their message, but there are signs people are listening.
This summer they held a Get To Know Your Neighbor Day, encouraging people to hold block parties.
It resulted in more than 50 block parties ranging from Minden to north of Reno. Many people said they had thought about holding block parties but never got around to it until this campaign. At one of the parties in Sparks, neighbors learned there were two isolated and elderly widows living among them. Now the neighbors shop for them and make sure they’re all right, Flyer said.
So maybe he’s on to something.
The group is holding a gathering on Friday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Reno to go caroling, but you can do the same thing in your neighborhood.
• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. Contact him at 881-1221 or email@example.com.