Shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, Rush Limbaugh apparently was talking up a storm because he said on his show that with three wives, you’d think Osama’s house would have been a little neater.

osama - On Rush Limbaugh, Osama's 3 Wives, and Your Living Room

I really don’t want to debate whether that comment was offensive to women or not, because that’s not where I’m going with this, though if you’d like to comment on it, you’re more than welcome. I don’t listen to Rush; don’t get him on my radio up here in Canada. But I saw a link to this transcript, and I thought this was interesting:

Folks, it was a pigsty.  I’m not trying to offend Muslim sensibilities here.  Pigsty’s been around long before I was aware that that had some sort of possible problem with Muslims.  I mean, for crying out loud, dirty windows, half eaten food on the floor, filthy clothes shoved under the unmade bed.  I mean it looked worse than a teenage kids room.  It looked like a crack house.  And they continue with this business here that it was some million-dollar property. 

Then he says:

Here’s a guy with three wives living in a pigsty. One ought to be enough to keep it clean. 

So, what’s up?

First, a simple observation. Polygamy is absolutely, completely, undeniably disgusting. I can’t think of a worse type of relationship. You are property; you aren’t loved. That’s not even marriage. A marriage is between one man and one woman, and it is exclusive. Polygamy is a debased distortion of what God intended (and God even warned Solomon about it). 

And think of what polygamy does: it tells women that you’re not really special. You’re here to perform a role, which is basically a sexual one. You’re not here to be a confidante or a friend, because I can’t treat you any differently from any of the other wives. So I’m just going to use you.

No wonder depression is so high in the Muslim world! 

If you were one of Osama’s 3 wives, would you clean anything? I don’t think I would, because nothing would really be mine. Everything would be his, and if I made it better, then I’d be making life better for two of my rivals and all of their children, too. So there would be a race to the bottom, I believe; a race to see who can get away with doing the least, so that nobody else benefits from our labour.  And Osama, of course, would never clean because it was beneath him. So they all lived in squalor, despite the fact that he was supposed to be so revered. His life was disgusting, his end was pathetic, and he poisoned everything he touched.

Socialism has a similar problem as Osama’s lack of housekeeping, by the way. When everything is owned in common, then people don’t care for it properly, because others can abuse it or can skate along with no effort on their own part. That’s one reason, for instance, that agricultural output in the former Soviet Union kept decreasing every year, despite all the new agricultural policies. When people don’t own the crops they produce, and when others can benefit from their own work, then people will not work as hard. 

Ownership matters. If we’re going to have pride in something, we have to have a stake in it which cannot be taken away. We have to be able to benefit from the fruits of our labour, but, just as importantly, we have to be able to benefit ONLY from the fruits of our labour. If we can get something for free, why work for it? But if we do work, and then we can enjoy the rewards, we will.

So let’s bring this back around to us. Do you take pride in your home? I did a whole lot more when we bought our house than when we rented. For the first seven years of our marriage we were in rental housing, and it’s hard to get excited about a place you know isn’t really yours. We could never paint any colour other than beige, and we couldn’t put much up on the walls. We couldn’t change the kitchen cabinets or fix them up. And why would we put work into a place we weren’t going to stay in?

But as soon as we moved, I started buying decorating books and gardening books and everything, because I wanted to make a nice place for my family. 

It’s funny, but I used to think I was a bad housekeeper. Looking back, I think it was more that I was just a pragmatic renter, and it was hard to get excited about beautifying a place that wasn’t mine. That’s not an excuse to keep things messy, by the way; I’m just saying that I got much more excited about cleaning once it was my house.

The other big difference is that when you’re renting, you tend to live in a smaller place than you would otherwise. You’re giving your money away to a stranger every month, so you tend to live more frugally, saving up money so you can invest in something that’s really yours later. For us, that meant we never had enough storage space when we were renting. We never had enough rooms, or enough closets, or enough wall space for bookcases for all our stuff. And it’s much harder to keep the house neat when there just isn’t room for everything.

The moral to this story? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re living somewhere that isn’t really yours. Do the best you can, but realize that comparing yourself to someone who owns their own home isn’t the same. And save some money, so that one day, when housing prices finally do settle down to a reasonable level,  you’ll be able to actually own something.

Oh, and don’t become Muslim. Polygamy doesn’t work for so many reasons, but one is that nothing is ever really yours–even your husband.
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