Charity Vogel raises this important question in her December 2012 article in St. Anthony Messenger: Grace in a Coffee Pot
We have become such a consumer-focused world, where everyone's individual tastes can be met. Vogel focuses on single-serve coffee packs, but the same is true of a lot of things. For example, there are 7 people in my family and we have six different brands of toothpaste that we buy. There are also several foods that we buy because it is one person's favorite and his or her special "treat."
I tell my children to "share" their toys - maintaining that they are actually communal property, but the refrain I hear from every last one of them most of the time is "That's mine!" (With mine pronounced in this long drawn-out way that makes it sound more like "Mayan.") Clearly, sharing is a difficult concept. We keep working on it.
Yes, the individual has taken precedence in this world. We want what we want when we want it the way we want it. We are becoming less and less willing to share what we have and sacrifice for the good of the whole, even among a unit as small as a family.
Look around your home or workplace,
and it’s not hard to see other
examples of this phenomenon in
action. Find a house in this day and
age in a new development that does
not include double sinks in the master
bathroom and it’s something of a
And yet what is this trend toward
his-and-hers sinks but the most basic
of household statements about the
need for our own stuff, even after marriage,
homebuilding, and the arrival
Bathrooms in homes built in the
World War II era—I know this because
I used to live in one—had communal
toothbrush holders bolted to the
matching ceramic tile walls, ready for
use. Today, many families can’t even
spit into the same basin.
And yet coexisting is different from
existing next to someone else, which is
what the double-sink vanity asks us
to do. In the past we never had to spell
that concept out. Now we do.
How much of a surprise would it be,
then, if people who make their own
single-brew cups of coffee each morning,
after brushing their teeth at their
own private sinks, before reading newspapers
on their own private iPads, lose
something of the ability to live with
others, not merely among them? That
might not be the worry that keeps
everybody awake at night, but it has
given me pause.
I think Vogel has given us something worth thinking about.