Thursday, April 22, 2010
I Own You!
I will not speculate now on when the idea got started, nor about who started it, but the concept of ownership may be one of the most detrimental constructions in human history.
I know at some point in our history we were more collectivistic, tribalistic, and group oriented. Hunters hunted to feed the whole group. Gatherers gathered to feed the whole group. The only property we knew in those times was life. We protected our lives and the lives of loved ones.
Perhaps it was the start of agriculture that stimulate proprietary strivings. However it seems from African and Native American accounts that they were able to farm without adopting a sense of ownership of the land.
How did we get to the point that Imperialists from Europe felt so entitled that they could export colonialism throughout the world taking land, resources, and lives from indigenous people? How did we get to the point that we believed we could own land that existed long before we were born and even before modern humans existed?
Clearly by the time the Book of Genesis was written we had become such proprietary beings as it describes that God gave humans dominion over the land and the creatures of the Earth. We began naming everything and shaping the world to suit our egocentric purposes.
The concept of ownership gave birth to war, jealousy, revenge, envy, selfishness, and greed. Our belief that we can own anything has led us to bind one another as slaves. It has caused us to beat our spouses and children. It has even caused us to lay our proprietary claims on God. For instance, "My God is the one true God."
Humans have laid claim to the land and the seas. All of the Earth is now on someone's ledger. If you are not the owner, you have to pay to have access. You have to pay for food that comes from and that roams the ground. We have to pay for electricity and water. People claim to own the skies. We have planted flags in the moon and would do the same if we could get to another planet. Even that which you think you own, like your home for instance, can be taken away if you do not pay your taxes or if the government desires it.
The truth is... You don't own jack! We would be better off if we returned to the understanding that we are only a part of the larger system. We cannot own other distinct parts of the system and they cannot own us. The best we can do is live in harmony with our surroundings.
The next time you start to feel these undesirable emotions, or find yourself engaged in any of the aforementioned activities, ask yourself how it is possible to own anything. All that is provided us can be taken away in an instant. Objects bring us comfort and security, so it is understandable that we do not want to relinquish them. But it is an illusion that we ever possessed them to begin with. In the end, it is our clinging to objects that brings us pain and threatens our saftey.