I knew I couldn't last...


It's no secret that I often find myself frustrated with American culture. I don't hate America by any means. I'm definitely a consumer. I love art, entertainment, shopping--I do. And while I frequently question its real benefit, I'm pretty fond of and dependent upon technology. But at times the excessive amount of information, opinion, and consumption is a bit overwhelming. Living in a culture that is often arrogant, self-centered and obsessed with personal happiness to a fault weighs on me. It's almost too much to process. No, it IS too much to fully process. I don't want to take the easy road of accepting it and fitting my worldview into it neatly. But, I don't think I'm capable of staying "informed" on every important subject either.

Okay...here's what's on my mind today. Stewardship.

There are some trends in culture that are very recent...developing only in the last 150 years or so and in some cases they're still unique to our culture present day. It seems like we keep delaying adulthood by years and years and claiming we're incapable of reaching real maturity until we're say...28. That sounds about right for this year. And even then it's a lifestyle choice.

But along with that is this idea that independence equals responsibility. The idea of that bothers me a little bit. Most cultures, even ours, have been community based in the past. Whole multi-generational families living under one roof, depending on each other, depending on their greater community, respecting the leadership of their elders. Is this dead and gone? I mean I enjoy living independently with my husband. It's nice to sit in the quiet of our apartment together and make our own decisions about our lives together. And I know some people would fight with their family constantly if they all lived under the same roof.

But does it really need to be denigrated and looked down upon? It's acceptable to live with your parents if you're in school, if you're single and trying to pay off debt in preparation for your independence, if you're going through a temporary hardship or in the reverse...if your parents are older and you become their primary care giver. But if these aren't the case and if you choose to live as multiple families together, whether it be with your parents, or multiple families in one house of the same age, it's considered pathetic...weird...and sad. But why?

I think we're all aware of how wealthy we are, at least in fact. We've heard the statistics. The majority of the world lives on less than $2 a day. I know that indoor plumbing, heat, a/c, internet, etc. are all luxuries. But in our country they're considered essentials. The cost of living is so high. I often feel poor in comparison to those around me. I know my needs and even wants are met but I still live paycheck to paycheck---depending on that money to pay my bills. Those bills...the ones that are an entire years wage for some people in one months payment. That's just how much it costs to live. We live at a different level of living...but we do live in excess. We also complain about it and constantly want more. Or we accept it and try to give a few bucks here and there to the poor in the world.

My mother once was telling me a story about a friend of hers whose son went to Africa and came back so completely altered that it scared her. He was sleeping on the floor instead of in his bed because he was so bothered by what he saw in whatever third world country he was in. I commented "Well maybe that's a good thing" to which my mother was absolutely appalled and responded "Well he needs to snap out of it. You can't just stop living your life or being normal because of a missions trip." Now, I mean no disrespect to my mother, but I'm not sure there was anything wrong with feeling altered by experiencing the extreme need of others.

I'm not one of those people who thinks your pathetic unless you are constantly giving to causes and the poor and are "aware" of absolutely everything going on in the world. I don't think there is anything wrong with buying a movie or going out to eat. Honestly, the need in the world is overwhelming...and we're incapable of solving it all ourselves. I really can't watch the news without feeling overwhelmed and helpless, so I'm not exactly well informed in general. But I do hope for a different attitude and lifestyle from people. One that has some balance, and some attempt to live less selfish lives.

John Paul and I still have tv, internet, heat, etc. But we are trying to simplify the excess and invest into others too. And back to my original thought....I've often thought about how much more we'd have to give and save if we were sharing the expense of living with others. I don't mean this in a socialistic community way, I just mean family and simplification. What would be so wrong about two or three generations living in the same household, paying a 3rd of the cost of living and banding together with their excess to help others? Why does that have to be looked down upon? What exactly is so wrong about it?

I'm not saying everyone should do this or that it's the right thing to do in a lot of cases. Independence can be a very healthy thing. But you have to admit, its somewhat cultural.

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