I'd like us to consider a message from the past. "Property is theft" was a slogan coined by French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1840 in a credo concerning liberty, equality, and security. Although Proudhon was clear that his opposition to property did not extend to exclusive possession of labor-made wealth, without too much focus on whatever past context gave birth to this phrase, I am inspired to ponder, spurred on by the general sentiment itself which is as relevant today as it was for the Native when we "discovered" America.
We have come to a pivotal moment in history where, due to an exploding population, increased communication, trade and automation, we find ourselves woven into an almost indecipherable complexity. Our ability to take in information has grown far beyond our ability to vet or digest what is being made available to us and this deeply effects both our individual and community's ability to respond with accurate or concerted actions.
When one has studied Asian systems of meditation, movement and philosophy, one thing that stands out in today's world: human disconnection from each other and nature. More precisely, the effect this disconnect has on our confidence and general well-being. We humans are social creatures and as such, depend on our connections to others and our environment for our survival both worldly and spiritual. But when our ability to properly decipher the information presented to us effectively disappears, we find ourselves unsure of what actions to take. Moreover, when we do find an action we can live with, it is not one we can follow with great confidence. As a result, our chi or life forces wane, and the dangerous distractions of modern anesthetics such as television and Monday night football, supplant our ability to recognize our responsibility to our planet and future generations. I remind that both the Native Americans and ancient Chinese alike, used a framework of looking forward to the welfare of seven generations to come.
Having become highly technologically developed, especially in areas of commerce, we are now finding many faults in capitalism evidenced by the rebounding of the unintended consequences of our actions. We are witnessing the development of a huge gap between the extremely rich and the extremely poor as we watch the middle class vanish. What else can we do other than doubt the notion that a capitalist model will intrinsically carry with it the necessary ethical and moral content to assure the well being of all.
We peer around for any viable pathway out of the mess we have created. We try to buy local veggies despite the season's snowfall and decline to approve another nuclear plant or landfill in our neighborhood. But what of the notion that property is theft? What does it actually imply?
Essentially, when one feels that they own something rather than being a temporary custodian of it, the nature of earth becomes objectified rather than being seen as a living organic part of our own continuums. Objectification stems from an unrealistic view and typically leads to unhealthy actions and unintended backlash. Property means to own and ownership implies theft from the what is by nature's ethics a functioning collective.
Many are seeing that the capitalist model which prides itself on the "accountability check and balance" that a free market economy is supposed to provide, has almost utterly and completely enabled the demise of our species as much as it has afforded us many luxuries. The basic reasons for this are: 1. That profits are privatized and liabilities are left to the public to bear. This creates a situation where the true costs of things is not at all brought into the items we enjoy and this messes up the books vis a vis the public's need to bear the true costs of private profits. 2. The insidious but definitive power consolidated from the influence of corporations self-serves only the few without regard to the implications of our interdependence with each other and nature or environment.
The light at the end of this seemingly collapsing tunnel is that the times will either wipe us all out or force us into truly compassionate behavior. At the very least, our arrogance is producing one of the greatest teachers of our times: the type of karma we call "karma with instant retribution". Along the way, we may even eventually stop "the Pipeline" in all its guises, collectively finding a way to wean ourselves off of our fossil economy and other unhealthy environmental pilferages.