Privilege & Responsibility

Last week, Alan closed on the sale of the home he owned before we met. Yesterday, we went to the bank to payoff the mortgage on our @HomeCrazzyHome. There was a mix-up with the process so he could not complete the transaction. But very shortly, we will be the sole stewards of our @HomeCrazzyHome. But it is a bitter sweet reminder for me of this thing called ‘privilege.’ Not merely white, but middle-class as well.

It is more than just home ownership, it is also an issue of food security. @HomeCrazzyHome comes with a tremendous amount of land. Land that can be used to grow our own food and to feed others. But all too often, homes like ours are not used for those purposes. Lawns and flower beds are given precedence over edibles. Nothing wrong with flowers per se. They are an important part of the eco-system and great for bees, butterflies, and birds, especially native species. And medicinal flowers are important, too.

But the use of land is about so much more than status, beauty, or impressing the neighbors. Indigenous peoples recognized that we are custodians and stewards of the land. That’s why I used that word earlier. Because like them, I don’t believe that land is something you can ever own. Mind you, I have seen more than one person whose home owned them. By that I mean, they did things, stayed in unhealthy relationships, worked jobs they hated, simply for the sake of ‘owning’ their homes.

Stewards and custodians on the other hand imply that you are temporarily managing something for the long term good of others. Often those indigenous peoples made decisions based on the needs of future, generally thinking seven generations ahead.

@HomeCrazzyHome is over one-hundred and fifty years old. That is approximately seven generations. When it was built, there was a fireplace in almost every room, because that was how they lit and heated most of them. The kitchen and pantry were in the basement, as were servants quarters. Our garage was a carriage house for horse and buggies. They could never imagine me sitting here writing something that could be read world wide at the click of a button. Or the cars and roads we have now.

Times have changed. They will keep changing. What this house will be, who will live here, or what this world will be like in another one-hundred and fifty years is as much a mystery to me as it was to them. But in that time, we have learned a lot about what it takes to be good stewards and why we must be better custodians of this planet, one another, and other creatures on it. We know now that they made lots of mistakes that are costing this planet to this day. We have made our own mistakes. And we probably will keep making some. But we know some things that desperately need to change.

When this house was built there were kitchen gardens out back. Those were torn down and replaced with housing for older adults a few decades ago. A previous owner of @HomeCrazzyHome led the fight to stop that. He was not successful. And yes, housing and change are inevitable. But we need to be more mindful of the cost of those things.

The past year has shown us the fragility of our food supply chains. Yes, we can regularly and cheaply eat things like pineapples, bananas, and mangos that those Victorians never or rarely had. But at what cost to the environment? And what happens when those things aren’t so readily available? Even something as simple as lettuce. Post-Brexit there is growing concern and a bit of occasional shortages of it. Yet, trust me, lettuce thrives in this environment. I can easily grow more than we could ever eat, and I have.

So, why aren’t we? Why aren’t more of us growing our own?

The good news is that more people are. Yes, still not enough. And often it is a privilege of the middle-class who need it less, because they/we have the land, resources, and access to knowledge to do it. But as that crazzy-cool Jesus dude said:

To him whom much is given, much is expected.

Luke 12:48

You don’t have to be a christian to recognize the wisdom of those words. That is why our @HomeCrazzyHome is as much as responsibility as it is a privilege. That responsibility that extends beyond just this moment, our needs, or wants. To our fellow man. To this eco-system, the flora, and fauna in it. And yes, to those future generations. How we manage those responsibilities are more of a legacy than a nice house or pretty gardens. They reflect the depths of our souls.

So, it is my pledge as partial custodian of @HomeCrazzyHome to…

  • To grow as much of our own fruits and vegetables as I can.
  • To share the surplus with our neighbors, especially those in need or those without the privilege of being able to do so for themselves.
  • To foster medicinal flowers and the knowledge of self-care that was once common place.
  • In the process, not to place our human needs unduly above those of other life forms. But to strive of balance.
  • And to the best of my ability leave our @HomeCrazzyHome and this world a better place for future generations.

I hope you all will hold me to that. I recognize it won’t be easy. Especially in world that still values all the wrong things. But now I need to get off here and go do that instead of just preaching about it. I have carrots and sunflowers to plant.

Oh, and I’ve switched days, @HomeCrazzyHome blogs will now be updated on Wednesdays as I am trying to reserve more of the weekend for self-care.

4 responses to “Privilege & Responsibility”

  1. This is so well written and with great points, and heart. The use of the word “privilege”, is the only thing I disagree with. Is it the misuse, weaponization and political manipulation of it that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth? Very strong possibility, sure.
    I too, don’t see it as “privilege” to for example, own a farm. Privilege in some way implies something has been gifted to you in some way rather than something you’ve actually worked, scaped, saved etc for.
    Even a small farm of 5 acres is back breaking work. was it a privilege to work 12hr days for 3 years without a single day off to save for a down payment? Or, the 16 hr days with no days off plus over night work trying to save the life of an animal on the farm, the true physical labor of working land and livestock?
    Privileged, no. Hard work, Yes. Blessed? Yes, I believe abundantly.

    1. While I appreciate that hard work plays a part in it, I hope you can recognize that white and middle-class opens doors to that opportunity which are forever closed to many PoC. What are you to do if you cannot find a job because you are black and the schools failed you? Or in the case of indigenous peoples around the globe, the land that they cared for millennia are now in the hands of others, who have abused it and them? And they too have poor education and no opportunity for advancement. And it continues to this day with large white multi-national corporations eating up the lands of indigenous peoples or poor farmers…India, Africa, Indonesia. Yes, privilege was the exact word. And those things are not misused, weaponized, or manipulated. They are the very day reality of people who also work 12 to 16 hour days just to survive with no hopes of attaining what we have. I stand by that. And behind those peoples.

      1. I definitely grew up in the poorest of conditions and, very often the only white child in my neighborhood and school. Funny isn’t it how none of us as children growing up together even thought or considered our race, that we were different in any way? We were just kids being kids, being friends and playing together.
        I think what you are talking about is a fraction of any specific race in our society, a fraction. And, that in itself may in fact feel racist to my Arab physician, my black surgical assistant, the black family and nieghbors living the the $400,000 home next door, the Hispanic family across from me, the family that’s from India down the street. Like a preconceived idea that they in some way weren’t as what? Successful or hardworking or capable? Does this notion not strip them of their achievements?
        A poor white person, hungry white person, needful white person is every bit as poor, hungry, needful as someone with more pigment. Poverty is indiscriminate and valuing the poverty and suffering of a skin color above a different skin color is, well… racist in itself isn’t it?
        But let’s examine two people of poverty, both poor, both living in public housing, both under educated, both equal in every way except one is white the other black. While equal in situation and need, there is no white college fund for the one that’s white, that would be racist. There are no special consideration, scholarships, grants, etc for the white one as there are for the minority person, therefore, which of these impoverished people have privileges?
        Now as per your statements about schooling… have hit the nail right on the head!
        1st, I detest low income housing areas. That looks to me to be a political move to herd the poor which dies in fact effect a large amount of our black minority citizens and I am skeptical on whether this was politically intentional at its very conception? Despicable! Because much of school funding comes from property taxes from the district….guess what? Poor funding for those schools! The effect that has is those students ate attempting to learn on 20 yr old text books! They cannot compete academically with more affluent area students, struggle at university level education because they are behind even though they recieve additional funding to pay for college….it’s a system designed to keep them in the poverty cycle and that is abhorrent!
        The education system is what truly need overhauled to give every student, everywhere in this country an equal education and opportunity to succeed. Now you may hate this but I’m going to say it anyway. The best thing anyone has done to elevate our lower income communities was Trump passing school choice allowing parents in low income areas to finally put their children into the best schools and provide them a better education AND creating opportunity zones that give our low income citizen the ability to better their lives and get out of that cycle. I support 100% helping other succeed.
        We talk in our family, our family being very diverse from my native american great grandmother, black nephews & nieces, Hispanic nephew and inlaws, to a nephew from Seoul. On these things we all agree and not one of us are interested in valuing or devaluing each other based on a scant fraction of an inch of dermal pigment…we are just family.

  2. We probably agree on more than we disagree. I too was raised poor. And despite my higher education and hard work could never afford this house had I not married well.

    But having said that, there is one huge privilege that education aside cannot be discounted. When my multi-cultural daughter and I discuss racism in the US (home) vs. the UK (where we live now and she was raised) she makes a single point that I cannot dispute. That point is that when she has an autistic meltdown, we do not have to worry about her being shot by the police. This may come down more to the fact that cops in the UK do not generally have guns than it does to any vaunted multi-culturalism this regime may like to brag about.

    I would also add that even those PoC who do ‘succeed’ are still trapped in fear. Educated black men are still pulled over for DWB (driving while black). Microaggressions that we can never understand or appreciate the impact of eat away at any sense of pride or accomplishment.

    So while education is an excellent place to begin, it won’t solve the problem completely. Not until those who are the source of the problem stand up and say No More. That is what I am doing and will keep doing.

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