Yesterday I helped my brother move into his new house (like me, he changed jobs and relocated over the summer). I am looking forward in the next couple of weeks to completing a home sale (this week) and a home purchase (next week) so that he can return the favor (actually, him returning the favor is not as important as me simply having my own space again). While I was there I got talking to my sister-in-law and she mentioned how different it felt moving into this house than it did when they moved into their previous house. They bought a brand-new house last time so they had spent about six months choosing options, colors, fixtures, etc. When they moved into the house it felt like their house already. This time they purchased an existing home and they closed in a relatively short period of time. When they moved in it still felt a little bit foreign to my sister-in-law.
As I have thought about that I have realized that it is universally true that we do not really take ownership of anything until we have invested ourselves in it – not just our money, but time and energy and commitment. The fact that my brother and his family have not done that already is no slight to them, it only illustrates a stage in the process of taking ownership that often gets overshadowed by the later stages when that investment has taken root. Often the period of time between choosing something and owning it is fast enough that we never get a snapshot of the intermediate condition of possession before ownership (actually it is possible to own something before it is in our possession).
I think that can be applied to our citizenship and civic responsibility. The statesman has taken ownership of his country by investing himself in the political process etc. On the other hand, many in our nation simply posess our citizenship without having taken ownership. Even among our politicians there are those who seem to posess their office without taking ownership of their responsibilities and position.