Snow and Driveways

November 30, 2010
Paul Loewen |

I love snow - always have. When Jeanette and I purchased our house last May, we knew it had a large driveway. But it wasn't so much the size as it was the layout. It is directly along a fence, on the other side of which is our neighbor's drive - meaning we can't shovel off to that side. For another thirty feet, it follows the side of our house, meaning that all the snow in that section needs to be shoveled down the driveway before it can be shoveled off the driveway. After all these recent snowfalls, you would think we'd be tired of the driveway. But that's not the case. Even though the driveway is 1050 square feet (thank you, Google Earth), we're still glad we have it. You see, when we bought the house we made a simple decision - we would do our best to not complain about anything that others may not have. Having lived in an apartment for three years, this included: mowing the lawn, maintaining a garden, shoveling a driveway, fixing a garage, etc. When the barrage of snow hit, many people complained. There were plenty Facebook statuses decrying the amount of shoveling that would have to be done. We did post about shoveling, but in a comical, positive tone. You see, I don't feel like anyone that has as much as we do has the right to complain. It just doesn't sit right with me. So my word of advice is simple: the next time you feel the need to complain about the luxury that you have, remember those that don't have it. It'll make the shoveling or mowing that much more enjoyable, and it'll get your heart in the right place, too. Taking Heart, Paul

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Paul Loewen
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So I should make myself feel better because someone else has a poorer lot in life?

Sorry I don't find anything about generosity in there and I took the attitude which will help make life more 'enjoyable' as somewhat equivalent to feeling better.
It is a strong irritant of mine that we would use the poverty of others in any instrumental way such as not complaining. I have the same issue in sickness as well . . . it could always be worse. What's the poor schmuck at the bottom rung supposed to do?

You seem to playing very loose with the term blessing here. I don't have time at the moment to respond more fully. To put it briefly you seem to be collapsing privilege into blessing, but I will have to think through that a little more.

I think what concerns me most is that in many of your posts I find an implicit justification for the status quo. In my mind it boils down to a difference that I think I alluded to in earlier comment thread where we part ways on conceiving faithfulness in terms of personal engagement (these are my blessings what will I do with them) and relational engagement (how and by what are my circumstances conditioned or established; can what looks like a blessing actually be the false fruits of a larger unfaithful expressions). Both expressions acknowledge falleness and the need for restoration but I fail to see how your posts and responses account for larger questions of sin and unfaithfulness.

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at. Perhaps that was a hard comment to follow. I'm certainly not ever trying to justify a "status quo" in life. In your second bracket here I think you're getting at the social injustices in this world that provide us with "blessings" (I apologize if I use a word you don't like) while trampling on the other fellow. Rest assured, I am as much interested in social justice as many other Mennonites. At the same time, to leave out my current role and attitude towards things is naive. I would consider it a two-pronged approach, and a 3-400 word blog entry is not enough space to always include my angle on social justice as it relates to whatever topic I may be discussing. When it comes down to it, I don't think a blog entry is the main place people's opinions on social justice will be changed. Blogging is, generally speaking, about the everyday aspects of life.

I found that to be a very strange response. I see that we have very different views on interaction in this space. I interact on a handful of blogs which I would consider a primary and high-level source of information and education. And as to whether or not your view changes I think part of the public nature of this forum is that onlookers can indeed be strongly influenced when they did not come into a conversation with clear views. Nonetheless, what is again troubling is this apparent division between 'social justice' and 'everyday aspects of life'. Should there be a need to include an 'angle' on that matter? Should it not simply be reflected in our expressions whether humorous, light-hearted, serious, etc.? I took your expression of everyday life as including your 'angle' on social justice . . . that was my point.

On my last comment: well, I suppose a blog can be different things to different people. I do agree, however, that the important topics need to be broached and discussed on a blog. What I thought you were asking for is for me to include an altar-call style paragraph on how each blog entry relates to social justice. I won't do that for social justice (or for any topic), as it detracts from what I'm writing about.

Nevertheless, I do see each post written in the context of my greater Biblical understanding, whether that be the salvation story, social justice, creation care, care for the less fortunate, etc. Going back to my first (initial) post, I don't see how it ignores social justice. I did not write it in ignorance of my stance on social justice. I do not write anything forgetting about the 99% of my other beliefs that back it up. I know I didn't specifically mention anything social justice-y, but I find that to start naming things like that can bog an otherwise lighthearted anecdotal blog entry down.

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