When we are friends with someone, we don’t say, “This person is a friend to me.” We say, ‘This is my friend.” My friend, my wife, my husband, my child, my cat. My, my, my. Ownership is big in our culture. Someone who lives on the Earth for a few dozen years can take a piece of land that’s been in existence for billions of years, plant a flag and say, “I own this land.” And if the owner lives here in the U.S., he or she can then shoot someone who wonders on to that land – land that previously was just part of the planet and will sit there for billions of years after its new owner has turned to dust and recycled back into the land.
Who’s idea was this, anyway?
It’s really important to us that people know when something is our idea. That’s my idea! They stole my idea! We have laws to stop intellectual property theft. “I patented that idea.” What you own is a sign of your economic class. It may be a sign of your cultural background. It’s definitely part of your identity that you want to project to people. Some people take pride in how little they own, others in how much, or some quality of the items in their domain. It seems like it’s only when people suddenly lose all of their belongings that they take stock of who they really are underneath it all.
Some people make a distinction between owning private property and owning personal property*. These people are called Marxists. We don’t see many of them today, but their idea was that it was fine to own personal items, like your watch and the shirt on your back. Marxists have an aversion, though, to individuals amassing wealth in the form of private property, like land and buildings. They argue that these things should be owned collectively. These ideas have largely been abandoned in much of the world. It appears that we are in an era that values the unobstructed pursuit of individual wealth. People even buy completely abstract things like futures of entire stock markets. This creates wealth essentially out of nothing. But all perceived wealth is an illusion, since every last person, no matter how much she or he owns, will in time cease to exist, to be reabsobed into that which is real: the Earth. The creepy epilogue: The deceased’s estate continues to own their things and their patented ideas.
*In the US state of Maryland, wives are still legally defined as the personal property of their husbands.
The post beneath this flower will lead you to of video of me further pontificating on life: