At some point, we’ve all wished that we could live in a place like Mayberry, the small North Carolina town from the Andy Griffith Show. And why not? We’d have neighbors like Barney Fife, Floyd the Barber, and Aunt Bea. Imagine waking up every day in a community where everyone was sweet and thoughtful to each other and where things rarely got out of hand. Even Otis*, Mayberry’s town drunk, was entrusted with his own key to the jail so he could let himself in and out every night.
The problem with dreaming about towns like Mayberry is that they’ve always been fiction. There is no place on earth where people naturally love and care for each other without effort. Communities like that only exist when people selflessly deny themselves (Matthew 16:24) and sacrifice for one another (Matthew 19:29).
Bringing Mayberry to life for real begins inside each one of us. Jesus taught that our behavior toward others is merely the overflow of what’s inside our hearts (Matthew 12:34). To fix the world, we must fix ourselves. If we want our world to be loving and kind, we must be loving and kind. Family is the first community in which we should experience that kind of love and support. From there, our good will should spread outward as friends, good neighbors, and good citizens.
Each one of us is a small flame, but collectively we become a bright light of hope in a world that gets awfully dark.
*Fun Fact: Otis was played by Hal Smith, who was the first Mr. Whittaker for the first 253 episodes of our award-winning radio drama for children Adventures in Odyssey.