In my suburban neighborhood, junior high students must walk to school along a busy arterial with no shoulder. A kid who stumbles or is jostled from the narrow sidewalk lands directly in the path of a fast-moving vehicle. Children in other neighborhoods must walk to an elementary school along this street.
Fifty or 60 years ago, the orchards surrounding our original town morphed into housing developments—tripling our city’s population and overloading arterial streets. A proposed project to widen existing streets was defeated by residents who objected to losing part of their spacious front yards. Wishing traffic and development away failed to solve the problem. Eventually traffic congestion forced the city to create driving lanes from the existing shoulder and parking strips on arterials—placing the street directly next to the sidewalks.
Residents who opposed widening this road died years ago—leaving their lawns and flowers to renters who don’t seem to care. But their legacy—narrow, hazardous sidewalks on which children must walk to school—remains.
Temporal possessions are not eternal, but attachment to them may have consequences that, while not eternal, extend far beyond our lives.