Wednesdays Radio 4 'Thought for the day' had a great reflection by Graham Jones, Bishop of Norwich. He was mulling over a book called, 'What's mine is yours' based around the growing idea of 'collaborative consumption'. Ebay, freecycle etc have made trust, swapping and sharing a real opportunity in the electronic age.
Bishop Jones noted that the average power drill is used for only 12 minutes over its entire lifetime. Most things we own, from books to children's toys are mostly stored away for most of the time. Sharing is such an obvious answer to a lack of resources. When I was a lad, I remember carrying a hoover around from house to house in the maisonette block we lived in. Why does every household need a hoover when they only use it for a short period each day? In the 70's, sharing, seemed normal, an everyday activity. Now, everyone feels they must own everything separately.
Rachel Botsman, one of the authors of 'What's mine is yours' believes that the growth of modern electronic 'collaborative consumption' proves that we are 'hardwired for sharing'. We just need the right mechanisms to allow it to take place.
In an age of austerity, it may be the only answer left open to us a society. It may also rebuild a sense of community in our towns and cities. These are new ways of responding to the challenge of one of the great teachers of the New Testament: 'Let the person with two coats give one to the person with none'.