not in my backyard!

because of the way i have been living life as a claretian priest for so many years, i can struggle doing the necessary projects of being a homeowner. in fact, i am neither good at it nor do i particularly enjoy it. i jokingly tell others, “home ownership is overrated.” so i have a unique bias.

several weeks ago there was a local story about the city of redmond buying a hotel to help people experiencing homelessness. when word got out to the people who lived near the hotel, there was a outcry against the proposal. there were the predictable worries: they will bring drugs into our neighborhood, there will be prostitution, crime will increase, our children will not be safe, etc. valid concerns. this is redmond, the center of the microsoft universe, not south of downtown seattle!

most reasonable people do not want to see human beings living in tents or dilapidated rvs or cars. most people have hearts and a will to do something to alleviate the plight of people– especially children– who experience homelessness.

until the solution impacts us and our lifestyle. the dynamic is called NIMBY: not in my backyard. it can be a powerful attitude that affects our behavior.

it doesn’t even have to be a homeless hotel in the area. it can be anything that lowers property values. we can become most passionate about things that hit us in the pocketbook. our homes are generally the most expensive thing we own so it is understandable that we act to protect such a valuable asset.

this is the clash of values: my personal situation versus the common good. my personal situation can have tangible good motivations but it can also be a subtle or not so subtle selfishness. even when the voices of personal goods are together, it can work against what is good for society’s common good. lobbyist organizations can be good examples of this in our legal system. it does not have to be only in redmond neighborhoods.

at times, it can be cloaked in the “rights” language: my rights versus others’ or our rights.

fear can be the major motivator in the NIMBY way: i will have to change the way i live. there can be valid fears involved but there can also be a self protective selfishness cloaked in secondary concerns. but what is a common factor is: how i am affected personally trumps what is good for us as a society to be safe or flourish. even as it comes at the expense of real human beings.

this kind of structural selfishness is difficult to address. most of us cannot even recognize the dynamic present. in part, it adds to the quagmire of issues such as fossil fuel, abortion, assault rifle ownership and not wanting to get the covid vaccine.

in faith, it works against love, justice and peace in the societal realm. we can easily ignore the good of others because we can too self absorbed on how it affects me and what i want.

NIMBYism– how do i participate and/or stand against this dynamic in my life?


  1. beccamac2001 says:

    NIMBY is alive and thriving in Prescott these days.
    We are fortunate to live near Thumb Butte in an old neighborhood (not fancy) in a small home so nimby doesn’t really affect us.
    Now of our little old (1954) house were to be plopped down somewhere in Prescott Lakes or many of the developments I have no doubt there would be problems.
    There is currently a huge debate in Prescott Lakes over the change of zoning of a piece of property.
    It was zoned originally to be used for Dr. Offices and the like. Maybe up to ten businesses or so.
    It was slipped in awhile ago and rezoned so that (gasp) apartments could be built in that property.
    It’s quit a hot button topic.
    Who knows ? Maybe whoever celebrates mass tonight will bring it up …
    I’ll let ya know.
    Have a beautiful evening and hugs to your sweet mama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. frarthurcmf says:

      i can imagine it all becca. it really is in so many places. the more we have, the more we have to protect. thanks be to the Spirit for divine help and guidance!

      Liked by 1 person

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