The Myth of Ownership

I’ve been struggling with the concept of ownership for a long time, and suspect it may be just a myth.

Many people here tragically lost homes, investments, jobs, retirement funds in the economic downturn. It seems like we have gone through that moment when the illusion of ever increasing wealth is faced with a harsh reality, and a disordered psyche fails to integrate the two. I was spared, in that I didn’t have so much to lose, not really owning the usual things we have come to expect a person and a family should. I didn’t have the basic elements of the classic American dream, no house, no car, no retirement, no investments.

I was supposed to inherit land at one point in my life, that I gave up, and I did have a car for a while that I gave up, and now I can say it is much easier for me in some ways when I keep a small apartment and use public transportation. I’m not sure things like land can be owned, after all. I could think that I owned a house or land, and the taxes could be too much to keep it, the government could decide to take it with eminent domain, it wouldn’t really be mine anyway-not here. Where I grew up in New York, the land had been occupied by different cultures over the ages, none of whom I would think of as owning it. The words of people who lived here before us come to mind, how can you own the sky, water, land? A version of Chief Seattle’s response to the US government offer to buy land is here:

I do have an American dream. It is the one where I know how to plant and cultivate and share, and cook and build and create, and my neighbors do to and so we are never without meaningful work. It’s the one where we are a nation of “we” helping meet all of each other’s needs and not a nation of “I”. Some days I’m afraid we all like having “things” and money way to much to ever have a real revolution. Hearing so many voices raised all around the world this October 15th, I felt like waking up to a new day, where the dream was not just for sleep but for waking.

What’s your idea of a dream nation, community, world? Please leave a comment to share views with readers, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

You may also be interested in Short Stories “Death and the Dream” available at



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36 responses to “The Myth of Ownership”


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