Today’s post is another instalment in my Praise and Prose series, which looks at how the language we use — particularly in matters of faith and spirituality — might evolve in order to better reflect reality.
A person may spend 40 years working hard to pay off a mortgage, so they can ‘own’ their home. But in reality — beyond the level of societal constructs — you will never own your home, because everything that exists belongs to God.
The idea of property enslaves us. We fear going to prison — that’s the only reason why we work hard to pay off our mortgage, and the only reason why the concept of property means anything. We live in a fear-based world.
True freedom is freedom from the fear of going to jail. But if there was no fear of going to jail, wouldn’t this result in anarchy? Only if people are fundamentally evil, and if without the law, we would all want to fight and kill each other.
In some areas of the animal kingdom, we witness a constant fight to the death for the purpose of obtaining food and territory. One need only consider the hunter lion, by way of example, or the spider who constructs their web in order to murder insects. Perhaps such examples would support an argument as to why it’s a good thing that we have law and order, and the concept of ownership.
But are human beings really the same as these animals? Aren’t we different, and isn’t this evidenced in the fact that we use language, and have the capacity for logical thinking and compassionate reflection?
Perhaps what we need is a radical approach to education. If studying philosophy was central to eduction from a young age, people would be more open-minded and more willing to question the system into which they have been born.
If people are taught the logic that compassion and love for others makes them happier in themselves, and if they truly understand this, they will live a life of service, rather than a life desperately trying to avoid going to prison, which is often, paradoxically, one of the main reasons why people end up in prison, as the prison system creates so much fear, which leads to anger, suffering, and hate.
Caring for other people makes us happier. It is a ‘win-win’ situation; the person expressing love and the person receiving love both benefit. In an education system where feelings are explored and valued and understood, rather than simply the learning of so-called “facts” about history, society would be infinitely more compassionate — there would be less selfishness, greed, and fear, and less violence. Then, we could reconsider the idea of ownership and mortgages, and rebuild society with love of neighbour as the guiding principle.
All too often, the capitalist system utterly destroys people’s wellbeing. Perhaps a few lucky ones escape serious depression, suicide, sickness, or prison, because they are fortunate enough to meet a mentor, such as a psychological therapist, who can educate them in a different way to the State education system. All too often, however, the system crushes people’s spirits, making them selfish, competitive, aggressive, fearful, and mentally and physically unwell.
Come on, humans. Can we not do better? Are we really going to settle for this ridiculous state of affairs which benefits no one? We need serious change.
I cannot imagine that it would be difficult to develop a society where resources are distributed to meet the basic needs of everyone, and where love of God, and love of neighbour, are central. We just need to be open to the possibility, and lovingly strive to help others to see the logic of it.
Perhaps one way in which we can begin to create change is by highlighting, through our use of language, the absurdity of the idea of ownership. If you visit a friend, and they say “look at my plant!”, you might ask them, “do you own the soil?”. They might think about it, and say “no”. Then you might ask your friend, “do you own the sunlight that makes the plant grow?”. They might think about it, and say “no”. “Do you own the water?”, you might ask. And so on. “Then you might want to consider whether or not you really own this plant, or whether all the things which you claim are yours are really the property of God”, you might say.
I can imagine that simply by making your friend question the idea of property in this way, their defensiveness about their possessions would begin to melt away. This, in turn, would lead them to feel less possessive, and therefore more compassionate, which could benefit their self-esteem and their relationships considerably. They might also be more open to the idea that there is a God to whom we are indebted for everything that brings us joy.
The next time you have a guest over, and wish to celebrate the beauty of the plant which is in the home where you live, why not say, “Look at God’s plant!” rather than “Look at my plant!”? This would be entirely more truthful, and might even be a pleasant and transformative thing for your friend to hear.
What are your thoughts on the idea of ownership? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. To view the other posts in this Praise and Prose series, click here, and if you’d like to receive an email for every new post on this blog, please consider subscribing. Thank you for reading!