It is easy for me to decry the destructive effects of the notion of
“personal property” upon the community-nature of any group of people,
especially when I am safely hidden in my thinking cap. But it is
altogether different feeling when I am found naked in the raw
circumstances of pedestrian life.
I have been in a situation now for a little while where someone I
know–a good Christian–has been encroaching on my personal property.
This person is not malicious, not greedy, not given to rudeness.
I’m usually inclined to think s/he’s clueless. But even so,
frankly, its been rather annoying.
At first, I struggled with wanting to be charitable and also wanting to
maintain a sense of boundaries. Admittedly, the charitable side
was motivated by guilt and the boundaries side was motivated by
territorialism. I tried not to pay attention too much to this
person or myself. But over time, this person has found new ways
to make use of what is so clearly mine. And its really getting on my nerves. I’m
beginning to wonder if I’m just being a pushover.
But in the back of my mind has been gnawing another thought. What
if this person is not clueless in a general sort of way, but is
clueless in a “I operate according to an entirely different paradigm as
you” sort of way. Over time, I’ve learned that this person is one
of the most resourceful people I know. S/he is not privy to a
great salary, but is well-accustomed to his/her place in a web of
interconnected relationships that are connected not for the sake of
social mobility, but for practical day-to-day living. In other
words, perhaps s/he is operating under much more visceral understanding
of community than I am–hence the fluid understanding of personal property. And so I said to myself today, “Am I
getting annoyed at him/her for the very thing that I wish I could see
more often in myself and those around me? Am I detested by these
manifestations of community membership?”
Sadly, I think the answer is…yes.