Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One Community, One Home.


August 16, 2017

Property and its holding has been the source of human conflict and misery from the first moment anyone was jealous of another for the food they were eating. Yes, the desire to possess land is intrinsic in the order of nature, and in our instincts

But to say that our drive to take land, and the taking of land, is fate, is necessary, implies we have no choices, no power to alter our values, and no power to alter our behavior. To say we must follow the pattern laid out for us by nature is to say we have no free will. To say that the holder of wealth has a right to use it to control the resources that another people needs - the definition of fascism - is mere self aggrandizement. Convenient for you if the ability to grab land from others is within your reach. To say that competition for land is the only way to allocate that essential resource is to say that humanity is a simple species with no imagination, with no alternative social instincts, and no desire for a better outcome

So you may be accustomed to driving at seventy miles per hour on the interstate, with a powerful engine at your command, and enjoy all the benefits of getting quickly, in comfort, to where ever you are going, but if you are heading for a cliff, you may prefer to change your behavior. And if you find there are no more roads and there is no more fuel, you will need to abandon the luxury of this form of transportation.

So the drive to accumulate property and wealth is not unnatural. It is not automatically wrong. But as we experience the world as full, as we contemplate the ecological destruction of the Earth, as we ponder the fates of our families, communities, humanity, and our planet, we have to ask whether there is a better way. In human history, despite the ravages and misery wrought by our wars, the Earth and its ecosystems have persisted. Ozone has protected us, Oxygen has been generated, fish have filled the oceans and forests have regrown when we allowed them to. The Earth's ecosystems are not identical to what they were before humanity, but never before have human depredations threatened to extinguish civilization and most of the life we know. In an existential crisis, existential values come into question. And the root existential question is whether we will compete or share

I am a student of history, of ecology, of anthropology, among other subjects. The time scale for these subjects is hundreds and thousands of generations in depth. We see patterns at these scales that we do not see in our ordinary lives. One of the most profound, to me, is that humanity evolves, innovating new strategies for survival to accommodate changing conditions. Already, we have invented agriculture, the concept of evil, plumbing, and writing and reading. We have invented health care, and made large families unnecessary. Already, people who raid, rape and pillage are marginalized in the international system, being accused of “war crimes”. Already we have established an international system of sovereignty which upholds the principle that nations are not allowed to invade each other and take each other's land. No, it doesn't work well enough, and the raiders now use money and corruption to do their dirty work, but humanity, and civilization, have come a long way. And we can do this. We can change the root values of the global human experiment.

We now enter that phase of human history in which we choose between a world in a perpetual state of war and destruction, and a world at peace, in healing. If you want to change the world, if you want to live your life on a healthy planet, if you want to have children who grow up in healthy communities, and have children of their own, consider this your charge: Value all children, not just your own, value every life, not just those you consort with, value the ecosystems of the Earth that sustain us, not just the neighborhood you live in, value solutions which benefit the global community, even when it costs you more. Value sharing. Value cooperation. Value doing things together. Ultimately, we must make property available to all for personal well-being, and available to none as an investment.

Don't be a martyr. There are cheats and selfish people who will take advantage. But keep your eyes open for opportunities to change how we think, and explain ourselves to each other, and look for ways to make all lives better. Look for opportunities for healing.