Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sharing is Caring

Riding  downtown with one of my friends last week, I was struck by something she did. She reached under the radio for a chapstick, used it, and then offered it to me. I wondered if my lips looked chapped, but thought to another event. Earlier at her house, she had offered me half of her banana, and pushed over a jar of almond butter to dip it in. Although things like chapstick and bananas are seen to me as personal items, she clearly has a communal way of thinking. These were not forced or unusual exercises, but rather a continued practice in her habits of sharing.
I guess what stuck me about these actions is that I've been really critical about my hesitation to share lately. Sometimes I'll wait until a time I can eat a snack privately, to avoid giving nibbles to others. Or if I'm really trying to be polite, will offer someone to taste my meal, then hope that they'll take a small bite, or offer them a minimal portion. And then there are a few of my peers, that will reach for food without asking, or puppy-dog-eye me until I feel obligated to give them something. I suppose it's because of my experience with those people that I'm hesitant with others. But that's not a reasonable excuse. Why am I so sheltering of my food, my chapstick, and my stuff, when friends of mine, or even aquaintences are so willing to share? If I dream of living in a society where there are tool libraries and food forests that are open to everyone, then I need to change my habits of sharing, and learn from my friends.
I suppose there's a greater issue at play, and it's not a subtle force. Although I appreciate communalism in theory, I have been raised in a society of capitalists. I have been told all my life that the harder I work, the more I can achieve, and therefore receive. Only once I got to college did I start considering the effects of privilege (so well explained in this video) on my realities, but even then didn't start sharing the way my friends do now.

Isn't sharing one of the first things we learn in kindergarten? How is it then so easily forgotten as we work toward the American dream. Where in the American dream does it ask us to share, to give back, to build community and contribute. Capitalism is an every-man-for-itself sort of system that doesn't work well in a kindergarten classroom. Why not? Because of limited resources. Just as our earth only has a finite amount of coal, a classroom only has a certain set of markers, or only one Goodnight Moon book. If Josh and Julie and Jamie all want to read the book, they're instructed to Share. But when Josh and Julie and Jamie are land developers all wanting to repurpose a plot of land with a beautiful little pond, the spoils go to the one with the most money, the loudest mouth and the deepest connections. 

Can you imagine a world where our kindergarten emphasis on sharing extended to the finite resources that we're currently exploiting? Like many changes I dream up on my blog, we won't shift to a sharing society overnight, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I challenge you to share something. Share a meal with a stranger, or an old friend. Share a jacket with a homeless man. Share your sewing machine with a neighbor. I guarantee you'll feel great. I know, cause I've started sharing.

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