Most particularly, how one person, usually a man, sees a whole valley, for example, and says to himself, and others, ‘this is mine’.
All the rivers in the valley, all the fertile land, all the mountains – ‘mine’.
Then he fences it off, without regard for those who live in the valley, the people and creatures for whom the valley is the source of life itself, land and water, food and shelter, and makes a declaration along the line of ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’ or, in earlier days, that would be shot on sight. Speared. Stabbed. Stoned. Depending how far back in time you’d like to go.
And, should you be privileged enough to own the valley, if you yourself didn’t have the advantage of claiming if for yourself, those into whose arms you were born did or, alternatively, you or they had access to enough money to buy the valley from the original claimant or his heirs.
This means one of three things.
Access to land and water on Planet Earth is the result of:
* grandiose notions of entitlement
* the ability to purchase it.
This leaves me with a quandary.
What about the rest of us?
What about the rest of us for whom the right to land from which to source our food and water is a fundamental human right – with or without the entitlement of inheritance or money?
I believe we have very few ‘rights’ by virtue of being human. Most rights are rules we have proscribed in law, with varying degrees of consideration for fair play, that are mostly noble attempts to ensure we play nice with each other.
In truth, we inherit 3 rights when we are born to the Earth:
* the right to air
* the right to water
* the right to land from which to source our food.
As humans we inherit a fourth right – the right to creative expression.
At the moment I am concerned only with the first three, the ones we share with all the creatures of the Earth.
What do people do who long only for access to their birthright – land and water – what do they do when they do not have an invader’s mentality, money or landed entitlement?
What of those who long to walk the earth, grow a garden, navigate the needs of other creatures on the creatures’ terms, have no desire to go into debt for a sum of money they cannot hope to repay in their lifetime, whose repayment they must devote their entire lives to at great expense to their personal and creative expression, have no desire to pour energy into a system that benefits only a few and pours money into the pockets of individuals (even if we can at times admire the cleverness of those individuals).
Land claimed by nations and kings belonged to men of privilege and, until recently in the West, family property laws ensured land tenure passed to sons – women have been disinherited for millennia and in most countries still are.
(Blah blah the singular exceptions.)
So, simplistically we solve the mystery of how our current system came to be – but we do not resolve its legacy, which is the dispossession of most of the world’s people from the Earth their home they inherited at birth.
As for the creatures of our world, they’ve got no fucking chance.
Which raises a whole new quandary – how to address the situation we have all inherited without peddling new ideologies that belittle and deny the realities of human co-existence, such as: our personal and collective struggles with greed, bitterness, revenge, desperation, entanglement, betrayal, collusion.
Any thoughts and opinions you might have in response to any of the above, you can be sure are in service to saccharine ignorance about the practicalities of organising significant numbers of humans. Hell! most of us can’t even keep a family on an even keel.
This is not criticism – it is recognition of our frailty.
Now I am way off my own point about private ownership of public land – but now that I’m here, how about a few thoughts that might address our current situation that could count as steps in the right direction:
* shut the fuck up about things we know nothing about: by all means voice a private opinion, but stay off the public broadcast systems;
* turn our attention to our own lives: quit telling others what to do or even having an opinion at all about their lives and their struggles and their choices and their outcomes;
* quit planning for a future that isn’t ours to have.
Oh look at that, we have come full circle, back to private ownership of that which belongs to all the people and creatures of the Earth:
Quit planning for a future that isn’t yours.
We have only today – what do you, I, we need today?