Dept. of Alternative Facts: Howz Rulz

house (n): a dwelling, in suburban USA usual consider the residence of a nuclear family; in an urban area more often a shared residence of several unrelated adults who are reducing housing expenses.

howz (n): made up spelling of house, to be hip; (v): made up contraction of how is, as is “how is this done?”

rules (n): a set of guidelines for how a community is expected to behave; (v): to govern or dominate someone

rulz (n): made up spelling of rules, to be hip; (v): made up spelling of controlling a situation as “He rulz the basketball court with his 3-point shot”

My brother and I have been reflecting on his experience of living in a share home.  This is in a major US city, where over several years he has partnered with a local church to help with their after school program and with the local elementary and middle school to help students in the classroom.  As he travels several times per year to help out, he has found lodging, from couch surfing with family to AirBnB rentals.  The church he has partnered with has been developing a shared home for four to five young adults, college and early career, to help them move out from homes and have a safe place to live while the get established.  During my brother’s recent visit to this city, the church offered him an alcove in the shared house to rest in rather than renting a place.

Our recent conversations have been about how young people develop habits that could be beneficial for later in life.  But, also how lack of guidance leaves them in a trial-and-error situation which may provide less than useful life lessons.  Youth is a time of mistakes and getting back on course.  Some mentoring may allow one’s life experience to vicariously direct someone away from risky situations.

That brought up the lack of house rules in the shared home.  The result was a sink full of dishes and limited use of the shared spaces in the home.  Without expectations and agreed upon social norms, it is easier for the residents to go directly to their rooms with carry out meals than to live as if they share the home.

My brother thought that establishing some order, some agreed upon house rules would be helpful.  In our discuss, his response started with beginning a list of “thou shalt not’s”.  Yo, Bro, no young person want to be told how to behave by sanctions.  And, all that Old Testament stuff was about what you should not do. How about switching those to what we should do.  Let’s come up with some incentives for doing good.

God gave Moses 10 Commandments (Ezoduz 20:1 – 17).  Centuries later, by Jezus’ time the Pharizees has tabulated about 600 rules to live by.  While their intent was to provide guidance of what God wanted the Jewz to do, this mostly turned into a game of Gotcha, By God, Tag your Damned!  Peter, Paul, and Jacob (aka James if he has lived in England, which he did not), all talked about how the law condemned one.  Love, as prescribed by Jezus, set us free.

Jezus consolidated those 10 to 600 Commandments into two: love God, love your neighbor.  Do these and all the other laws will fall into place and have a purpose other than stacking the odds against you.

So, I thought that I would try to reframe the 10 Sanctions into 10 Incentives, for a set of house rules that would encourage productive behaviors.  I’ll call them Howz Rulz.

I have has copied the 10 Commandments below and will reword my 10 Incentives after each.  Join in the discuss, as this is the point about agreeing about expected behavior.

1 God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Incentive One: Be on a quest to find God in everything around you.  Find God in your housemates, in your neighbors, in your coworkers, in the person next to you on the bus, in your friends at the coffee shop or club, in the children playing in the park, in the elderly person whom you walk with so they get to the store safely.  As Jesus said, what you do for the least of these you do for me.  Every day, look at the people, loved ones to strangers and see God in them.

4 “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Incentive Two: Stuff is to be used for various tasks in life.  That could be the utensils in the kitchen, the washer and drier, your electronic devices, a social or civic organization, and mentor, role-model, or religious/civic leader.  Use these to pursue Incentive One: your quest for God.  However, if the stuff become more important than the quest, you are worshiping the stuff.  Keep your stuff in check.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who misuses his name.

Incentive Three: Words matter.  Remember the opening of the Gospel of John, “In the beging was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God”.  If you are not finding God in the people around use, find God in the Words you hear and speak. Use words carefully and kindly.  Once a toxic word gets out, you can’t swallow it.  Speak with forethought.  If you are not sure what you want to say, or might say something confusing or hurtful to someone else, snap the trap and close the app.  Tell someone that this is a great topic, but you need time to figure out your thought.  You can get back to them later.  And, do formulate your ideas and find time to continue the discuss when ready. Also, give the other folks time.  We don’t need to solve this problem right now.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 You shall labor six days, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11 for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

Incentive Four: Rest, relax, and let others do so to.  Accept and respect that people take time-outs in different ways.  Some need to sleep in.  Other need to be allowed their personal space, free from knocking on doors, forced conversations in the living room and at the dinning table.  Turn off the electronics and if you know someone is going to be off line for a while, leave them be.  That text can wait. Some people’s down time is with other people, hangin’ and chillin’.  Take them out for a meal, get your groove on at the club, hit the arena for the game.  Others prefer activity.  Go for a walk, enjoy a museum or movie together.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

Incentive Five: Honor your father and mother, even though they let your down in someway.  Consider that they may have been your age, younger or older, with all ambitions and insecurities that you had when they took on rearing a child (you) for the next couple of decades.  Maybe they excelled at parenting.  Maybe the sucked.  Maybe they are in the helicopter or drone constantly hovering over you.  Maybe they abandoned you.  The best way to honor your parents is to reflect on their desireable qualities and annoying behaviors.  Imitate their (your) strengths, and learn to control their (your) vulnerabilities.  Give yourself a decade to do this process, but don’t wait until your 50, like I did, to accept that you are your parents.

13 “You shall not murder.

Incentive Six: Let people live.  Better yet, help each other thrive.  This gets back to seeing God in everyone around you.  Only someone else can declare that he or she is your enemy.  You don’t have to call them your enemy with the implication that destroying them (murdering) literally or figuratively is the right action.  Rather find how people can be your allies and partners in different aspect of living.  Living and working together we can make our corner of the sky a desirable place.  Right Pippin?

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Incentive Seven: Respect your boundaries and commitments with people.  Regardless of how horny our society, social media, music, movies, and entertainment might be, we can view each other without having to turn everything into flirtation to dominance.  Adultery is more than a poke-in-the-wiskers with someone whom are not married to.  Adultery betrayal.  This could be betrayal of someone whom you have made formal or informal commitments to be exclusive with, and it could be betrayal of trust of someone whom you seduce into too much of a relationship all the way to sex.  But, again, go back to Incentive One, seek God in other people, and you are less likely to want to screw (sex or betraying) them.

15 “You shall not steal.

Incentive Eight: If you would like to use someone’s stuff, ask first, return the item in good condition, and thank them.  Their stuff is not your stuff, just because they left it in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, or living room.  Better yet, if you find their stuff in a shared space, return it and let them know you wanted to protect their stuff.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Incentive Nine: When gossip comes your way, reply, “Gossip stops with me.”  End of discussion.  Don’t pass on the questionable information and accusations to anyone else.  If you are able to discern whom the issue is between suggest that the person passing on the information should address it with those folks, not you.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Incentive Ten: Appreciate stuff that you and other people have, use these with their permission (Incentive Eight) and lend your stuff if they ask, but don’t think that “Yours is Mine”.  Consider that stuff comes with a cost.  Maybe that cost is time, energy, knowledge, skill, or money.  But, when you want something that someone else has, you are committing your resources to getting, maintaining and keeping that stuff.  This also gets back to Incentive Two. If wanting some stuff is so important that it gets in the way of your quest for God you have made that stuff you desire an idol, you are using your resources for the wrong thing.

One more comment on idolizing stuff, stealing stuff, and coveting stuff, all of these attitudes and actions require a lot of self-justification.  Most of the time, most of us act, then rationalize those actions.  This requires a lot of mental energy, wasted talking, and constructing a moral code that gets more convoluted and irrational, the more we idolize stuff, steal stuff, and covet stuff.  Buddha was probably right about the cost of attachment (at least on that topic) and human misery.

 If we consolidate these ten incentives into Jesus’ Two Commandments, we could say that

Our love for God includes Incentives One through Four.

Loving our neighbor includes Incentives Five through Ten

So to put this into one saying, “If it’s your Brothers and Sisters your dissin’, it’s God your pissin’ off”. Learn to live, learn to love.  Start today.  All the days of your life will be blessed.”

Howz Rulz and Jezus the Rock that Doesn’t Roll.

Of, as Larry Normal asked back in the 70’s, ”If God is my Father…”

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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7 Responses to Dept. of Alternative Facts: Howz Rulz

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    Outstanding! Thank you, Oscar.

  2. Yes, yes! I do wonder what kind of adults they will become. Is their behavior due immaturity, or is this a trend they will carry with them into adulthood? Sure hope it’s the former and not the latter.

  3. Hi Oscar,
    I love, love, love this!!
    It is brilliant, specially: “Let people live” and “If it’s your Brothers and Sisters your dissin’, it’s God your pissin’ off”
    So, did your brother share the Howz Rulz? How was it received?

    • hermitsdoor says:

      He made some revisions, mostly to shorten them up (brief attention span of intended readers) and take out some of the snarky comments. I can speak with a little different voice. Howz Rulz might be relevant for Maya in a future adventure… when she moves into a shared house and has to get along with people rather that telling people what to do (that dynamic is already started with Lexi, right?)

  4. Brother Dave says:

    Sorry for my late response. I had to unload all the dishes that you left in the dishwasher when you flew home. jk – I’m such an older brother.

    Thanks for you thoughtful insight on doing life in community. I’ll let you know how things are going when I go back in May.

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