“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”. This is one of the few lines of Shakespeare that most people can quote. I’ve even heard it quoted as being from the bible. It’s not and for what it’s worth neither is “God helps them who helps themselves”. Regardless of where it is from it is something that is engrained deep into the North American psyche, but is it wisdom or anti-community?
I still remember being in grade 3 and loaning one of my Paddington Bear books to a girl in my class. It was one of a set and came in its own decorative cardboard case. She never gave it back. I still remember her name. She moved away. Every day the hole in the case reproached me and it felt bad. Six years later this same girl appeared in my high school. I recognized her instantly and I wanted to bolt up to her and say, “Give me back my book. You have my Paddington book. You shouldn’t have kept it.” Needless to say it didn’t happen but I remember the shock to my system and how it felt.
In the blog “The Year of Less” one of the recent ideas was to borrow. The idea is that not everyone needs to buy every item you will ever use. In theory we would borrow from each other and play nicely. If you have family nearby and you are semi-functional then having communal items is a great idea. I found myself getting anxious as I contemplated the idea of asking to borrow anything short of an egg or 1/2 cup of sugar which I knew I would quickly replace. As for loaning, watching Judge Judy, it seems to be a sure fire way to lose friendships and incur hard feelings if anything goes wrong, damage or loss, and then trying to reconcile the bills. It hardly seems worth it. The problem is that we don’t need everything we have and it is a waste for us all to own our own turnip twaddlers when none of us probably twaddles on a regular basis.
I am not saying do not lend items to friends but my early experiences taught me to only lend what I could live without and which are not treasured items. Out of print books that feature pictures of me refusing George Clooney’s proposal stay on my bookshelf. Dresses that make me look two sizes smaller are not going on your body. My grandmother’s handmade blanket stays by my side. As for the other stuff what I suggest is fair trade.
I need to borrow a wheel barrow and i know the neighbors have one. On occasion they have hired my son to mow their yard. What I will propose is that Josh will mow their yard in exchange for the use of the wheel barrow for one day. If that works we both win. One of the other things I do is a book box. On Saturdays at our local hospice thrift paperback books are .25 cents. It is easy to grab a few. I used to take these with me instead of library books in case they are damaged or lost. Library books stay in the home. If I like a book, after I’ve read it it goes in the box. When I get together with girlfriends I bring the box and they can take what they like. They can pass them on or give them back to the thrift. Eventually they started doing the same. It is a habit I fell out of but I think it would be a great time to start again.
In theory I think lending and borrowing could work if you have like minded friends who are all in agreement and there is an element of fair trade.
I think that this is the sort of principle I can live with. I’d love to hear other people’s opinions of borrowing/lending.