Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The C word

No not that one.

I've rewritten this post 40-11 times, and I just got done scrapping four or five paragraphs of good stuff. I was trying to set something up, make it make sense, but I think I just need to get to the point.

Let's get real for a minute. Why do I and my neighbor both need a lawn mower? Unless you live on one of those sprawling estates where it takes 5 days straight to mow the lawn, you probably don't use your mower more than one day a week. So why couldn't you and your neighbor, or even 3 or 4, go in on a nice one together. You work out a day schedule and you get it on your day. Sure there will be a few time issues, but you work those out with your neighbors. And an extra bonus just happened: besides the cash you saved paying half or a third off normal price, you now know your neighbors and have a relationship with them. Something being lost in this day and age.

How many more examples can you think of?
-Setting up a swing set between yards for all the kids.
-Putting in a pool for 3 or 4 families with everyone pitching in on the added insurance expense.
-Sharing a car if you only have a part time job.
-Doing weekly meals with family or friends.
-Doing laundry together with your neighbor in a jointly bought washer/dryer.
-Use your imagination... (Of course there are logistics and issues than can arise, but if you focus on only those you'll always find a problem and never the joy.)

You know what all these things are pictures of? Community; the C word I was talking about. I've craved that community for a long time. I've always scoffed at the extravagant lifestyle of others and thought extra "stuff" was unnecessary. (In bare honesty though, I have often stretched for the very same thing myself, and none of it brought me the joy I thought it would. That joy has only ever come from the people in my life.) The American culture has taken large steps since WWII in a search for independence, but I have to wonder if some of those steps might have been backwards. Getting and owning more and more stuff, and not sharing any of it, isn't where's it at for me.

These thoughts have been in my head since I was 16 and they've continually grown stronger. I've talked about communal living with some of our dear friends for over 8 years now. Living with family in close knit communities worked in this country for 250 years, why did we abandon it? I don't want to anymore. I want to live a little smarter and simpler. And I have a feeling I'm not alone in that desire. If only I could find those other people.

I'm reading a book that four people have told me not to. It's called Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I guess much of what he talks about is what I've spoken of here, and those well-meaning friends are afraid the book will convict me. We'll see. I just started it this weekend so I'll keep you informed.


Blogger Paul Dazet said...

Wow! Sounds like there is a revolution brewing.

I long for these things as well. It is a different way of "keeping up with the Jones". You and the Jones are sharing life together.

I have been thinking about ways to resist this empire of consumerism. Your ideas are definitely pointing me in the right direction.

Thanks Sam!

4:52 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I wish I could say it was only now brewing; my brain's been filled with this kind of stuff for years.

The thing that may be brewing is I may finally be growing big enough balls to actually do something about it.

Everyone keeps warning me the book may push me over the edge. Normally I'd ask for my friends to catch me if I were to fall, but in this case I'm half-tempted to ask them to push me.

Anybody else feeling me on this?

5:00 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

OH YEAH! love that c-word. Shane will most likely convict you, but i don't know that it will be the same kind of conviction you're talking about here. If you're anything like me, you'll be convicted to give everything to Christ and line only for him. Community is just a part of the journey where we make that happen together.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

I am often saddened by the American culture. Community constantly being downsized and cut out of our society, which in turn causes people (who are naturally social) to become depressed and lonely. People crave their own gadgets that restrict/eliminate having to socialize with the people around them, new things constantly come are released to the public that look like fun, but turn out to isolate people from each other even more.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

"...besides the cash you saved paying half or a third off normal price, you now know your neighbors and have a relationship with them."

Oh, my biggest fear...having to be nice to someone...

Okay, only partially true - sure has been lots to chew on around here.

Glad to hear you feeling better about the new job - amazing how much our mindset affects things, huh?

1:06 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

SEEMS so simple huh?, and actually is, but you are right, America has taken steps backward, and has become self indulged.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to comment, but like your first paragraph, I've started and un-started a few times. The challenge is never in the big stuff. Your (and apparently other's) concept is a good one. Sharing in a love and trust based community has got to be the ideal, both for those of us who love the Lord (check out Acts 2) and for those who are only in it for "the savings" so to speak. The big concept is very good, and ought to work itself out in increased bonus based living.
But the problem comes when that lawn mower breaks down and someone has to fix it. I can see a simple repair becoming a stumbling block when #1 of the four people involved think #3 is careless and doesn't take good care of the mower - and therefore thinks that #3 should pay for the repairs. But then again, #4 left the pool a mess last time they used it for a dinner/pool party and #2 is tired of picking up for both #3 and #4. And on and on it goes. Its never the big idea that doesn't work, its the little nit picky things that break up community. And to solve all those little tough spots I can see a document rivaling the constitution of Bulgaria trying to anticipate all the fuss and bother.
So I guess we'll just buy a mower and let you borrow it, or better still, you buy the mower and I'll pay you to cut the grass.

It's not the mountain that stops the climber, its the grain of sand in his shoe!


5:21 PM  
Blogger GUYK said...

Sam, I agree with Dad and would add this..without all of the neighbors buying a lawnmower there will be a lot of lawnmower makers out of a job!

But, sharing resources and labor is an old American tradition..when I was
a kid it was called barn raising..when a neighbor needed help everyone pitched in and helped. I think there is a still a lot of this going on but we just don't hear about it in the media..

What we hear in the media is the socialists among us who do want this sharing bit..but they want it enforced by government

8:47 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thank you all for your thoughts, especially my dad and Guy. I think I'll respond by writing a new post because my thoughts would be kind of long-winded for here.

12:06 PM  

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