Building on to the subject from Tuesday’s post today I want to discuss community and how building a sharing community where you live will make your life better, or why the ownership mentality is hurting us.
Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high regard for sharing. When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success. When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl. The child was encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling. ~~
Mourning Dove Salish
I learn a lot from the students attending the local university and this past week a discussion I had with one particular student aligned so closely with what I learned from Native American people that I couldn’t help but think we, as a society as a whole, are on the right path…finally. He commented on ownership being the destruction of our innate and natural tendencies.
Then my friend Dale, shared a story on Facebook about being yelled at for using a person’s garbage can. In Dale’s defense she saw the garbage truck coming so her trash wouldn’t have been in the container for more than a few minutes. Her story reminded me of my youngest son and an experience he had as a teen.
My son was walking with a friend and had finished a drink. He didn’t want to carry the container back to his friend’s home and saw a garbage can sitting at the curb. This seemed like the perfect solution as there were no public waste receptacles along his route. He lifted the lid, placed his container inside and returned the lid. The owner of that particular can came running out of the house yelling at my son to respect his property and keep his hands off. My son didn’t miss a beat. He asked the man if it would have been better if he acted like so many other people and just tossed his trash on the ground.
….I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.
Red Cloud(Makhpiya-luta) , April, 1870
Personally, I would rather have someone put their trash in a can of mine than toss it for me to have to pick up that is if I caught it before it was blown some where else. But the reaction both in my son’s case and in Dale’s comes down to what the university student had said to me. Those cans were either owned (having been bought) or paid for by renting from the trash company.
We put so much weight on our ownership we forget to look at the bigger picture.
Personally, I believe in a sharing economy where one doesn’t have to own everything they might need to have. This week we have been experiencing heavy rains. I have an umbrella left behind by a student who moved on, today another student is borrowing it to stay dry on his walks to and from classes. I’m not going any where so it would have just sat here dry and lonely.
We can share what we have, whether big or small.
When I lived in Arizona my next door neighbor was a Navajo man who was raised with traditional values. He taught me a lot about how far we can go in sharing. He owned a home in another city, but needing work his house would have sat empty. Instead he offered his home to friends from the Reservation who had found jobs in that area. He never charged them for living there. His reasoning was that he had something, his friends needed housing and it worked. Because he was raised with traditional values he believed in sharing his home, not renting it. He felt his home was being looked after and that was a fair trade.
This same man walked everywhere, including the fourteen or fifteen miles one way to work. One day after an accident he commented that he wished he had his truck. At this point I had known him for two and a half years but never saw him with a truck. He explained that he bought a truck four years prior but when he took it to the Reservation to show his father, his father remarked that having a truck like that would make working his ranch so much easier. This man had his brand new (not used mind you) vehicle for less than 24 hours but had never driven it after that day. Yes, he did make all the payments on the truck, just like his house.
“Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. “We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.”
Chief Maquinna, Nootka
When I asked him why he didn’t ask his father when he could have his truck back he shrugged and told me if his father no longer needed it he would call him. To call his father and inquire about his truck would have been rude. At the time we had this discussion my youngest had just learned to drive. I had informed my son if he wanted his license he would have to have his own car because I couldn’t walk every where I might need to go and couldn’t risk an accident. Listening to my neighbor I felt pretty petty for how I had viewed my car as my personal possession refusing to share it with my son. I still don’t know if I will ever reach that level of sharing having been raised with Western opinions but I like to think I get closer to that goal each day.
The tide is turning
A couple of months ago I won a book through David at the Good Human called Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time and Resources through Collaborative Consumption by Beth Buczynski. I’ve been meaning to write up a review of Beth’s book for some time now but today is as good a time as ever.
I initially asked not to be included in the drawing believing I knew enough about a sharing economy and thought others might benefit more from it. To my surprise I didn’t know even a small fraction of the ways in which a sharing economy has grown. We all know about Craigslist and Freecycle, same with seed banks and many others but what surprised me was that there was in addition to house sharing a way to permanently trade homes. What a plus this idea is for those who are being relocated and don’t have time to sell their home. You simply advertise your home as available and then look for a home in the area you are moving to. No more Real Estate agents (much to my youngest son’s chagrin should this become bigger).
Half of this wonderful book lists all the resources you could ever need to share what you have and receive what you need. Everything is broken down by subject into an easy to use reference.
(Note: all quotes borrowed from Native American Quote’s)
Let’s quit worrying about whether something is our possession and look for ways we can share. Your actions will be repaid many times over.