People and How They Share


I recently wrote a post about sharing.  In it I started the conversation about how our view of sharing influences politics and policies in a big way.   Here’s a chance to dig a little deeper and look at laws in the United States and how the two major groups tend to view the principle of sharing differently.

If you favor the idea that everyone should share, you likely favor social programs that help more widely distribute our nation’s wealth.  You like programs such as food stamps, subsidized housing, and healthcare because they help make sure people get what they need as everyone shares resources.  Yeah, it probably means an increase in taxes, but it’s for a good cause.

It’s like with your children and sharing toys.  If the children start squabbling and fighting over who gets to play with what toy, you simply make it a rule that all the toys have to be shared.

This perspective is usually in line with the Progressive, or Liberal, side of the political spectrum.

On the other hand, if you favor that idea that people should have the choice whether they want to share or not, you probably don’t like these same social programs and higher taxes.  Helping people is not the issue.  It’s the fact that these programs are required.  Even if in the end you contributed the same amount of money, the fact that you don’t get to choose how and when you want to share your resources is the problem.

Take that same scenario with the children and their toys.  You believe children should be taught to share and learn the principle of sharing, but should not be forced to share.  Depending on if toys belong to a certain child, they may or may not decide to share in a given moment, and that’s okay.

This perspective is usually in line with the Conservative side of the political spectrum.

So, as with everything in politics, we are similarly divided on issues of foreign aid, taxes, etc.  This difference in perspective even impacts the immigration issue.

But we need to add another element here.


Progressives have a really hard time trusting the wealthy, having noticed some signs of selfishness among those whom they feel should share.

What if our children never decide to share?  Do we continue to let them be selfish and never share?

Conservatives have a really hard time trusting government to use and distribute their money wisely.  They have seen too many examples of waste and inefficiency.

Should our children be forced to share with others who break and destroy their toys?  Should we include teaching our children to respect the toys along with the principle of sharing?

But here’s where it gets ugly.  If you sit on the Conservative or the Progressive side of the sharing principle, you start to see each other negatively.   When I asked friends to explain the differences between Conservatives and Progressives, several made reference to this difference in how we share.  Conservatives are selfish and Progressives aren’t careful.

It’s a problem.   We have to make laws together, but how can we work together if we only have hurtful things to say about each other?  The two party system further divides us by adding more and more layers to the problem.

Let’s go back to the kids and their toys scenario for a moment.

Imagine there are several children all together in one big room.  Some have a lot of toys, some have a few toys.   Depending on the children and the toys, it might not be long before the children are fighting.  Kids are grabbing and hitting because they aren’t sure how to share or what to do.

As the fighting increases, the moms step in.  Moms point out ownership, teach children to respect each other, and show them how to share.  Moms might even point out inclusive games or offer alternatives to popular toys.  With the influence of these moms, the children go back to playing together and find harmony in spite of inequality.

Now imagine if the children just kept fighting.  Would the moms ever be able to leave the children alone to play with each other?  I know I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my children to play while everyone is still fighting.

That’s what our political leaders have realized too.  Only, they don’t want to leave.  Politicians hope we keep fighting so they can stay involved and tell us what to do. Politicians and political parties find more and more ways to keep us fighting over some toy, some issue.

But you know what?  We can respect ownership while encouraging a more generous and sharing atmosphere.  We don’t have to fight or force each other in order to make sure others are treated fairly.  We need to BE our own leaders, we can be those moms who see the way through the negativity and work together in a meaningful way.

There is a way to share without fighting.





  1. I appreciate the analogy, but what is the solution?
    Because politicians don’t have the prerogative that parents have, what happens next after the people have been asked to play nicely? And when people decide not to share, what would a third political party do that a two-party system doesn’t do? What political platform preserves the right not to share while guaranteeing the level of sharing needed to keep our country operational?


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