I grew up in a house with a hoarder. Every weekend we would go to garage sales and buy stuff we mostly didn't need. Our house was full of great stacks of boxes full of papers and books from a teaching career that spanned three decades. Our kitchen was jam packed with plastic sippy cups and other items that my sister and I had outgrown. Our closets were spilling over with clothes nobody wore. I remember thinking as a kid that my room could have been tidy if only I had a place to put all my stuff. Little did I know that I just had too damn much shit.

As an adult, I've experienced a pretty extreme backlash against hoarding. I like to give shit away for free and I do it regularly. On Rooster, on Craigslist, to a random person walking by who looks like they need x, y, or z thing. Partially I give away stuff out of self interest, first to keep the house relatively tidy and second because I like to get stuff for free. The great karmic bowl in the sky keeps an account of these things.

More importantly, hoarding shit (particularly money) is bad for the economy. In a consumer economy that depends on people spending money, people who don't have the money to spend can grind the great machine to a halt. The ongoing production of everything from hot pockets to houses depends on people being willing and able to buy that shit, and in the case of houses, folks in my generation largely cannot afford to buy.

Most of us do not feel as though we have an abundance of cash to give to some whinging quim of a millenial who is still living in their parents' basement. But most of us probably have some extra clothes. Or dishware. Or electronic devices. Give that shit away. Somebody less fortunate than you--even if you're still living in your parents' basement--needs it.

In stable societies, the deliberate redistribution or destruction of wealth was a mainstay of the culture. First Nations peoples in the PNW would hold elaborate potlaches where the family hosting would give gifts to each individual in attendance. Sometimes wealthy families would compete with each other to see who could give the most elaborate potlach. Wealth and status in the community was measured not by how much an individual or family obtained, but by how much they could give away.

Christian missionaries and western governments viewed the practice as anathema to their attempts to civilize and Christianize the natives, and the practice was largely outlawed for several centuries, laying some of the groundwork for the wholesale destruction of First Nations cultures.

We don't live in a stable society, of course, nor do I expect that we will any time soon. Even if Bill Gates gave away all of his wealth to each American, each of us would only get a few hundred bucks. The wholesale redistribution of wealth on a non-voluntary basis is typically accompanied by rich folks swinging from lamp posts, and at the end of the day all we really get is a replacement of some humans with pigs who look very much like them.

So let's not go down that road. But you, YES YOU, can give away some of your shit. You can do it today. Even if you don't have the smallest ounce of shit you can give away, you can host the American version of a potlach, the potluck (the words are not related; potluck existed in the English language long before we had substantial knowledge of PNW cultures).

My husband and I are hosting one today, in fact. There will be ribs. There will be potato salad. There will be asparagus, cantaloupe, and pumpkin pie. We invited a few of our neighbors and some friends.

Giving away shit, be it food or extra shorts, is about building your community, something we're all going to need more of on the downside of Hubbert's Peak. Community is how America got by during the 1880's, during the Great Depression, during WWII, during the 1970's. It's the only way we're going to get by again. Yet so many of us are estranged from our neighbors in this weird, self-sufficient, private, individualistic culture we live in. Go give away some shit so you too can live in the 1940's, only without the racism and sexual repression.

Go! Do it! Right now!

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