Friday, February 11, 2011
Mine And Yours
This is the little placard sitting on the desk in my hotel room in Phoenix. I'm not exactly sure what it's trying to tell me. I know I think this often -- three for me, one for you. If I had four dollars in my pocket and you needed money, three for me, one for you. You never know, I could need the three dollars. But what in this picture is "mine" and what is "yours"? And who is the me and the you, anyway? There is no explanation of any of this on the placard, believe me, I looked. On the back is a menu for Rico's American Grill. Is the girl mine? The martini? The olives? Then what does that leave you? Or, is all of it yours and you are saying I can have it? I don't get it. Somebody somewhere came up with this advertisement and concluded that it would have a desired result. Why a person would look at this ad and go to Rico's, I can't tell you, though. What's mine is yours? I don't know.
Anyway, this prompted me to consider why we have such a need to classify everything as either "mine" or "yours"? And why does advertising that reinforces this idea work? What is it in us that wants not just dominion, but dominion followed by exclusion of all others? You rarely see any advertising that says: "This could be ours! Come see!" Most of us often think, from the very smallest thing, to the very biggest thing, "if I only had that, then I'd be happy." I recently watched the new Wall Street movie. There is a line in the movie: "What's your number?" one of character asks a big-shot Wall Street guy. The guy looks at him and asks what he means. The character says: "The amount of money you would need to be able to walk away from it all and just live happily ever after. Everybody has one -- it's an exact number -- what's yours?" The response: "More."
When you see this, you feel disgusted. But we know it all too well. It may or may not be money, but there is something you are focused on and you think that if you only had more of it, you would be happy. Not all of it is "bad" per se, some is good, but the trick is in the more: more kids, more electronics, more dates, more sex, more space, more fame, more opportunity, more time, more beauty, more freedom, more quiet. This "more disease" comes from, most often, seeing others with the more that you want. Others have two kids, a boy and a girl. I want more than just my boy. Others are more beautiful than me, they look happier. I want to be more beautiful. Others have more time than me. I want more time.
You have had more before, though, and it never gets you any closer to the "then I'd be happy," at least not for very long. In fact, sometimes having the more makes things worse than even your longing for more. So the goal ultimately becomes not more kids, more electronics, more dates, more sex, more space, more fame, more opportunity, more time, more beauty, more freedom, more quiet, but just more. More for more's sake.
What to do with this constant state of wanting more? I don't know the answer to this at all. I suffer from this "more disease" too. It's discontentment, dissatisfaction with the present, the now. Imagine: all we have is now, but we are discontent and dissatisfied so much of the time. It is a constant struggle for most of us. But, what if we started by stopping all the "mine" and "yours" talk. Isn't it this that causes the "more disease"? What if we loosened, just a little, the grip on the things we have? What if we gave or shared more of what we have to those who do not have the thing that we do have? Instead of giving one and keeping three, give all four (or, if you want to take it slow at first, give three and keep one). What if the fear of how you might feel if you lost something important to you no longer had a hold on you? What if your sidelong glances at what others have became just a little shorter because you know that there is a more in their life too and just a little more won't get you to happy?
What if we focused just a little bit more (pun intended) on where we are right now? There is so much right here. Such richness in what we do have. And none of it is ours in the first place. There is only one who can say "mine" to all things. As Abraham Kuyper said: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare,'That is mine!'”
And, as the Psalmist reported:
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who lives in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." Psalm 24:1-2.
It is not mine. It is not yours. It is His. He has been so generous to you.