John Steward of Jesus
  The "Good News" (Gospel) > Sporadic Log > U.S. Census of Residents

U.S. Census of Residents

June 6, 2010

We are among the many who recently found themselves in possession of mailings from the United States Census, addressed to the "resident" at a mailbox address.

In our experience, these were followed by a note on the door from a census worker who had tried to contact us, again addressed to the "resident".

When the worker did later find me home, I handed the accumulated materials to her.  Calling her attention to the fact that they were addressed to the "resident", I told her that there are no residents of the United States living here.  When she asked for further information, I said that, to the best of my knowledge, all she needed to know was whether there were any residents of the United States living here.

She thanked me.  I said she was very welcome.  She left.  That was more than two weeks ago.

This evening a different worker stopped and again asked for the information.  Our conversation was extensive, cordial, and touched many bases.  I will report here only what seems germane to the census issues, and may be helpful to others in similar contexts.

The workers all begin with the question whether "this" is a certain address, in our case 21 East 13th. Ave., Hutchinson, Kansas.  That is an "address" in their files which they regard as identifying a place in the United States, where people can "live".  I pointed out (literally) that the label on the mailbox is 21 East 13th. Ave., but that the label on the house is "Seven Yah Way".  She said she would make a note in the record that "21 East 13th. Ave." no longer existed as a house in the United States. 

It seems increasingly to me that putting an address label on a house and conditioning people to think they "live" there in the sense of finding their identity and sense of participation and place there is a tool used to condition loyalty and commitment to, and a sense of unbreakable attachment to, the political power assigning the labels, in this case the United States.  I am reminded of the New Testament observation that "in Him we live and move and have our being".  Living in a house does not determine my identity and loyalty any more than living in set of clothes, a room, a car, a bed, or an office. 

If the place where we live determines identity and loyalty, we should remind ourselves that we live on the earth, and consider whose it is.

The census worker seemed concerned to have evidence that she had been our doing her assignments, and wasn't simply creating reports to submit.  As a gesture of appreciation for her cordial and open spirit, I gave her my name and a telephone number where I can be reached, so that a review agent can confirm that a living man did indeed report the strange information she was submitting.