Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I wrote the most incredible post yesterday... and then Google ate it. Come on, I expect that from Microsoft, but Google? Anyway, I'm going to try again. This one will likely be shorter because I'm lacking on time.

I saw this picture over at no impact man and thought it was quite fitting. So I've been watching my kids and thinking of their interactions. The one thing that brings me the most happiness and pride in my life is to see them sharing and interacting. Really, it happens sometimes. Seeing the Mugwump (older child) take Six-pence (younger child) a toy or water bottle and just give it to him. You ask why he did that and he responds, "because it looked like he wanted it." Those are the moments when it is great to be a parent. Sure, I live in a home where the kids spend plenty of time fighting over toys, water bottles are access to a kitchen chair, and those are the moments that bring me the greatest headaches.

So sharing, that principle that most emphasized in preschool is really what brings me the greatest happiness. Looking beyond my kids, those moments when someone stops to offer me a hand with a flat tire or invites me to share a meal with them. Those are the moments that mean the most to me. Yet what happens after preschool? Kids don't need supplies in preschool, everything is provided and everything is shared (that's how I remember it anyway, and I went to A LOT of preschool). Kindergarten, on the other hand, you have to have your OWN supplies and we have our OWN desk and we start in with ownership. By high school, you have your OWN locker to store your OWN stuff and your OWN parking spot to park your OWN car. Why do we move away from sharing? (To be fair, I had to share a locker in high school, but I did have my own parking spot).

So what could we share now? How about a lawn mower and garden tools, or even tools in general. How many times have you gone for a walk around the block and noticed everyone using a hammer at the same time? Couldn't the block all share one or two hammers? Why do we each have our own? Lawn Mowers are a little different story because everyone mows their lawn on Saturday morning. Couldn't we sort of stagger that and share a lawnmower? I'm impressed on our block, the neighbor kids mow several lawns in the neighborhood so they can save up money. I think it's great, that way the neighbor kids have one lawnmower and they mow many lawns. Realistically, we could just share the one lawnmower. Could we also share a car? I know that my family could, if we found the right family to share with, but it would take a little planning.

So why don't we share anymore? I'll give it to you in one word... Inconvenience. I'll give you another word that comes to mind... Greed. Right, we need to have our own lawnmower, otherwise we couldn't mow the lawn on Saturday morning when we normally do. We might have to wait to mow the lawn or actually communicate with others in organizing when we will mow the lawn. That would be completely unacceptable (I'm not sure why, but it seems to be). Imagine if we shared all garden tools amongst a small group. That group would be forced to communicate with one another. We could build bonds among our neighbors. Sure, when Dave up the street decides to use the pruning sheers to cut wire, the group gets upset because he has ruined the sheers. But you know what, that doesn't have to be the end of a relationship. We don't have to hate Dave because he broke the sheers, the sheers are replaceable and we can teach him about wire cutters. That's another thing I like seeing my kids doing, solving problems, why don't adults do that any more? I'll give you another word to think about... Pride.

So I want to talk about that picture. Let's look at the big picture (not the picture at the top of the page, but the metaphorical picture). There are things that we are forced to share. The air, the land, water and public space are all great examples. If we don't share nicely it leads to problems. It leads to bigger problems than we expect. For example, I don't like it when passing motorists use the air I'm breathing to exhaust their cars. That makes for air that is hard to breathe. I know, I'm the only one inconvenienced by that... I'm sure the driver of the car didn't mind at all (that's why all cars should be exhausted into the driver's compartment). Let's look at the bigger picture. Did you know that car exhaust is closely linked to cardiovascular disease deaths and asthma? Do you know any children with asthma? Do you have any loved ones who have died of a heart attack? Do you know that your driving contributed to that? If we continue to "progress" by increasing streets and increasing driving, we may see that picture at the top of the page.

Sorry that turned into doom and gloom, I have a different perspective. Get out and enjoy nature. Do your best to share it with others. One of the best way of doing that is sharing resources. Sure it may be less convenient if you don't have your own, but consider it an opportunity to get to know someone better.


Emily Allan Wood said...

I agree with you. I like sharing and I like it when people share with me. I shared a wine bottle opener with a neighbor.

Once I realized I owned one and he could borrow it, I thought about giving it to him because I will never use it.

But then the thought occurred to me that if I let him have it, I may never have the pleasure of loaning it out again. So I kept it.

I also like it when people share eggs with me. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of making a batch of something only to find out you are short one egg.

Maybe if we were poorer, we would share more. I think poor people share far more, and are much more generous than people who have enough. The most generous people I have ever met have been people who have very little.

Anonymous said...

Some examples where we do share:
1. books from the public library. I rarely buy books and when I do I usually donate them to the library after I've read them

2. videos from the video stores.

I don't own a TV so I tend to "share" TVs with others. Last christmas I received a DVD set, which I had asked for, from my niece and nephews. They, of course, were curious as to how I would watch the DVD without a tv or computer. I called up various friends, who I thought would be interested in watching it, and asked to watch two episodes at each of their places. In exchange I brought over dinner. So I got to enjoy a meal with someone and have company to watch the DVD. And I introduced a group of people to a cool DVD series that they otherwise would not have known about. Everyone who watched asked to borrow the set after I was finished with it so that they could watch the other episodes.

On a bigger picture, our street does a pretty good job of sharing. Not necessarily lawn mowers or hammers, but definitely big ticket/less used items like table saws, extension ladders, chain saws, tin snips. I know who has what on the street and vice versa and when you need that particular tool you just go and ask to borrow it.

As to why its not done on a bigger scale? I think a few bad apples may have spoiled it. People who didn't return things to their proper place or returned things broken instead of replacing the item. That kind of thing. When you have a good of people who are consciencious, it works like a charm. But it would only take one person to spoil it.

Bri-onic Man said...

I agree. It feels good to share, and I have grown closer to my neighbors as they've let me borrow their tools and expertise. I'm not very good at coming up with ways to reciprocate, though. Maybe I don't have to. I do wonder if that's another reason why people don't share as much as they could (feeling awkward like you're in someone's debt and need to reciprocate).