Saturday, March 11, 2006

(Broken) Windows of the Soul

Several years ago, I read a book by Dave Thomas, one of my (unknowing) professional mentors called "The Pragmatic Programmer". In there, he talks about Broken Windows.
One broken window, left unrepaired for any substantial length of time, instills in the inhabitants of the building a sense of abandonment---a sense that the powers that be don't care about the building. So another window gets broken. People start littering. Graffiti appears. Serious structural damage begins. In a relatively short space of time, the building becomes damaged beyond the owner's desire to fix it, and the sense of abandonment becomes reality.
You can find out more about the theory of broken windows on wikipedia....

Recently, I started thinking about what makes those around us look at us a hypocrite. It seems to me that the broken windows of our souls may have something to do with it.

If we leave those windows in disrepair, pretty soon, our actions and words do no line up.

One of the things about broken windows that I found interesting was that during the 1990's, New York Mayor Giuliani started working a "Zero Tolerance" policy toward the "broken windows" of the subway -- graffiti. During this time period, the crime rate dropped. From the wikipedia article above....
Thus, Giuliani's "zero tolerance" rollout was part of an interlocking set of wider reforms, crucial parts of which had been underway since 1984. Giuliani had the police even more strictly enforce the law against subway fare evasion, and stopped public drinkers, urinators, and the "squeegee men" who had been wiping windshields of stopped cars and demanding payment. Rates of both petty and serious crime fell suddenly and significantly, and continued to drop for the following ten years (see: the 2001 study of crime trends in New York by George Kelling and William Sousa, and the 2002 study by Hope Corman).
I realize is that windows are going to break, both physically and spiritually. It is how we deal with them that matters.

1 comment:

alpjor said...

I couldn't agree w/ you more. Broken Windows are everywhere, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. The real trick, is how do you communicate that you have a Broken Window, that only you can see.