At church the other day, our pastor was talking about perception and its impact on accomplishment — you know, the old glass-half-full or glass-half-empty argument.

To a certain extent, which argument is strongest depends on you.

Some people respond better to adversity: If the glass is half empty, it’s time to buck up and do something about filling it up!

Other people work better on existing momentum: If the glass is already half full, you’re almost there!

The bottom line is that, one way or another, as long as you’re debating the merits of half-full or half-empty, at least you’re engaged in the argument and probably making progress toward filling the glass.

Our crime stories in this month’s magazine also can be read one of two ways: Either crime already is decreasing, or we need to take action to make sure crime decreases.

Your conclusion may depend upon your recent experience with crime. Had anything bad happen to you lately? How about your friends or neighbors?

My first experience with Dallas crime involved coming home unexpectedly with a load from the dry cleaner and having to make way for an escaping burglar in an old Chevy barreling down my driveway. Left behind was my front door, which was open, and my television and VCR, stacked neatly outside the door and ready for transport.

It turns out an alert neighbor realized I wasn’t home and probably wasn’t OK with someone kicking in my front door, so she made some noise and scared off the perpetrator. Needless to say, I couldn’t punch the buttons on my phone fast enough to have a home alarm installed.

When I left for the cleaners, my glass was half full, and crime wasn’t my problem; when I returned home, my glass was half empty, and there was a gaping hole in the bottom.

Thank goodness for an observant, involved neighbor. She put herself at risk to make enough noise to frighten away a burglar, in the process saving my electronics cache and who knows what else. And to be honest, great neighbor that I am, I’d never even introduced myself to her before that day.

All of this brings to mind another comment by our pastor as she spoke about the California redwoods, trees bigger than life but with root systems that essentially grow horizontally rather than vertically.

Her point: The redwoods survive because their roots are interlocked, making it virtually impossible to blow one down without taking down the entire forest — perhaps a persuasive argument to criminals thinking about invading a neighborhood protected by strong personal ties and a crime watch program.

Hopefully, no matter which glass you’re holding, you’ll agree with that sentiment.

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