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A Different Take On “We Deserve It”

June 26th, 2010 by Alison · 2 Comments · community, spirituality & religion, work

I’m happy, even ecstatic in our new home, on the east flank of Mount Tabor here in Portland, Oregon. Our house is newer than our former home (one week old versus 70 years old) and larger (2250 square feet versus 1290 sf). And most importantly to me, it has an open floor plan that promotes interaction and community, unlike our former domicile.

I’ve often heard people say in relation to expensive possessions,  “You deserve it” or “We deserve it”.  Sometimes they seem to be shoring up their self-esteem, i.e. we’re good people and therefore are entitled to good things. Other times they seem to be noting that they worked and earned the money to buy the luxury items.

I personally will never say of our beautiful new home “We deserve it”. I will never think or believe we are entitled to this house, despite my husband Thor and I being, I would hope, as good of people as most, and despite the fact we worked and earned the money with which to buy it.

I see our wonderful new house as a blessing, rather than something we deserve. I think this because a great many of the six billion people in the world work harder, longer, and under much worse conditions, than Thor and I will ever work, and due to low wages and lack of opportunities will never get to live in or own a home like this one. If we want to talk about deserving, then people from all corners of the world who are harder working and/or kinder than I am would be more deserving than I am of this lovely house. So, I say Thor’s and my lovely domicile is a matter of grace, a gift from God, and also a function of luck (we were born in the U.S., a country rich in resources).

And I’m grateful. My prayers this past week are for our new, larger house to be something we share with others, a source of community-building. And, our first house guest arrives on Monday — my brother Mick, from California.

As Buddhism points out, everything is transient. All of this could go away — the house in a fire or earthquake, Thor’s and my jobs in a yet deeper recession — and Thor and I would still be the same people. Both of us were poor when we were younger, long before meeting each other, struggling to pay monthly rent. Now we’re relatively affluent. But whether poor or well off, we are human, no more or less ‘deserving’. It doesn’t pay to get too attached to any particular thing, whether a home or a label or status we have in the world.

More friends are coming over this weekend to help us unpack, and share meals, and celebrate Thor’s birthday. Mahamudi, our 14 year old friend from Somalia, arrives at 2 this afternoon for his regular reading lesson with us; his light-hearted, playful approach to life helps offset our Type A, first-world tendencies.  All of these sources of our happiness are not entitlements, but blessings.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • John

    Dear Alison & Thor,

    It would indeed be wonderful to whizz up I5 and see you in your new home habitat - congrats on moving in!

    However, this weekend is full of jolly activity like coaxing our irrigation into functioning properly before I wander 250 miles south again to work for Bioengineering Associates Inc. in Laytonville on really jolly riverbank revegetation and stabilization using plants (mostly willow).

    After a late start because of the unseasonally cold nights, Christine is over halfway through shearing our beautiful alpacas. On the vast majority of farms that use commercial “production” shearers (that literally rip through 70 or so animals a day), shearing day is a mercifully short but terrifying experience, the aim being to get the fleece off the animal asap rather than to harvest it as a valuable ‘crop’. C has gradually perfected an approach that wins the trust of the alpacas she shears, and this is a huge contribution to the calmness of our herd - as well as maximizing our precious ‘crop’ which is the main reason for raising these wonderful animals in the first place!

    We’ll be with you both in spirit, and hope to see you before too long…..

    your friends John & Christine (who proudly ride 3 functional bicycles, but not all at once).

  • Alison

    It’s wonderful to hear from you and to know that you, Christine and the alpacas are all faring well in southern Oregon.

    Our guest room is open to you up here, plus, we plan to be in your neck of the woods at the end of July. We must get together.


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