Long, long, ago human beings caught hold of the ideas of ownership, and property, whether of the land, a cave, or animals or other people.
These fated ideas gradually led us into the world we live in today, where humans now assume the right to own and control all things.
One of the big differences between now and then is that our ownership today comes with much less gratitude and responsibility — in fact, almost none.
For the Australian Aborigines “ownership” had more to do with stewardship than possession. Theirs was a true ownership born of wisdom, awareness, surrender and a profound sense of care. Many aboriginal cultures the world over maintained their individual and cultural responsibilities through generations. They knew they belonged to this world. They knew the world did not belong to them. And they embraced great, and intimate, responsibilities toward, and in, the world.
Today’s philosophy of “punk ownership” is nothing less than sheer, brazen, self- entitlement, in a world now owned and controlled by frightened, angry, adolescent fools.
Ownership, in all its forms, and ways, including all our “points of view”, should always be available and open to inspection, consideration and question. Responsible humans, unafraid, are always willing to look into themselves, to inspect their own motives and actions.
Do we really own anything? Is ownership just a made up idea, a fantasy, an illusion? Is it a lie we tell ourselves and others?
Sooner or later life draws all of us to consider our egregious presumption that we have the unalienable right to own other beings, and things — to possess them.
The traditional Lakota Sioux never possessed the Bison of the great plains. They loved them, lived alongside them and saw the buffalo as spirit brothers. The Aborigines of the world regarded all animals, plants, natural forces, places, and all things, as sacred.
In Papua New Guinea my father encountered a remote tribe where theft was not even a concept. The idea of owning and possessing things didn’t yet exist for them. Theirs was a very different view of the world and life, possibly unchanged for hundreds of centuries, until Europeans arrived and required them to believe they were wrong.
How do we own the dog?
How do we own the horse?
How do we presume the right to control, breed and sell any living being or thing?
Why do we so readily economize and commodify them, disregarding who they really are?
How can we profess to love dogs, yet turn around to breed and sell them for our own profit? How can we love our horse yet force her under our will? How can we abandon our horses to slaughter when they no longer suit us or perform well enough?
If we don’t ask these questions of ourselves we are merely prisoners and slaves of a dying culture, consumed by an economy deeply and increasingly flawed in numberless ways.
Human slavery was once condoned at large. Many cultures have participated in it. In the 1830′s and 1860′s, both the British Empire and the United States legally abolished human slavery.
Now, 150 years on, we must ask about the morality of non-human slavery as well. Should they, too, not be free? Equally important, how can we free them responsibly? Many will still need our regard and care…
I invite you to consider, question and explore this matter, which is vital to who and what we are.
The enslavement of animals will one day come to an end. Our socio-economic system must be untied from its dependence upon animals. Medical, scientific and cosmetic research on animals must also end. The sooner the better.
Further to this, the core reasons for our prejudice against non-humans, as “less than” us, must be inspected, understood, and transcended at root in the awareness of our equality and unity with all beings and things…
Modern human slavery still goes on today, mostly hidden, but in some places it is still practiced relatively openly. Human slavery and the slavery of animals are inextricably tied together in life. Neither can be undone without the other also being freed. They are not different. They are the same.