The very concept of personal property is absurd.
If you own something (anything; a bit of land, an idea, a plan, a house, a cat, a baguette, a sense of your right to own things) you protect it. This dynamic is what leads countries to have “enemies”, and ultimately to wars – in the name of protecting ‘their’ land and ‘their’ people.
If you own something, you control who can access it (through money, or rules, or by just being a dick about it).
If others own things we want or need but can’t get, this drives jealousy which can cause theft if we don’t have the means to legitimately (within this system) obtain the desired thing.
Many of our Legends are about how bad jealousy is for peace, but they also start with someone – usually a god! – being proudly powerful. It is the power in the stories that is the trigger. The pride in power is the root cause of all the Legends’ destruction. Not the jealousy. If the gods were not so proud of their power and such show offs about it, then Prometheus wouldn’t have died to equal things out and give the power of the gods – fire – to humans.
But perhaps it is impossible to hide it when you are in a position of power over others.
Jealousy is a natural and normal reaction to someone skipping around saying “look at me, look at me, look what I’ve got, isn’t it great”. It’s normal for us to want to stop these kinds of people from being full of themselves. It is not normal to expect us to manage that particular emotion. Because jealousy is good.
Jealousy is the voice that demands fairness and equality. Jealousy expects sharing. It is entirely correct of us to want the excess that others have. Because if we did all get the excess that all others had, no one would ever have more than they need. I would get your excess. Bob would get mine. Joni would get Bob’s. On and on. Nobody would retain their excess. Everyone would have enough.
Personal property feels like one of our core human rights, and people often cite it as such because it’s easy for many of us to obtain and maintain. The idols and control mechanisms are in place to make sure it is both desirable and achievable. For most. But personal property – substantial personal property, not the latest Nike’s or a shelf full of books – is unachievable for a large some, and striving for a thing you can never get is an entirely defeatist proposition – leading to feelings of inadequacy and inability.
In a society where your worth is defined by the personal property you can gather and maintain (at any cost, through whatever means), some people will lie, cheat, exploit and extort, some people will follow the rules of society, which are simply legitimised abuse, and some people will always be left out.
At its furthest extremes, personal property causes inequality, evil acts, and poverty.
Personal property is ‘this is mine, not yours’. Personal property is therefore plainly selfish. If a toddler says “mine, not yours” we correct that toddler. It’s now time to correct ourselves. To be selfish is a weakness, a flaw, a danger. It is an obvious immaturity. To own and protect your personal property, and to keep it from others, however you’ve felt about it up until now, IS selfish.
It is not a human right to be selfish. It is not a human right to have property. And these ideas apply to national property too. It is not right that countries own land and people, and – in so doing, through international relations – have a say in the lives and behaviours of people all round the world, too.
Sharing leaves none out in the cold. Sharing brings everyone with you. Sharing gives to those who need, what they need when they need it. It makes no assumptions. It just provides. We all know how much better sharing is. We tell our kids to do it, because we believe in it.
But we live in a society that does not. We live in a society that believes competition is natural. We tell our kids to be good, then we throw them out into a world that is not good to them. No wonder some turn on us. (Taxi Driver. Joker)
It’s time to act like we expect our kids to act. It’s time to have the courage of our convictions. It’s time to grow up and share what we have. All of it.
And, yes..to those of you who have a lot, you’re right..I am jealous of you. Greed is how we create and maintain inequality. Jealousy is how we feel and express the damage greed causes. Sharing is how we balance things out.
Anyone who argues for a system that relies on the accumulation of personal property is also arguing to retain division, greed, inequality and selfishness.