Everywhere he went, he took care of the land as if it were his. It was not until being in a place where he was constantly reminded that, legally, it did not belong to him, that he no longer practiced this. That was a low point in his life.
This is a piece of the story I heard last night, and it struck me to the core, knowing many of us in livestock care, land stewardship and agriculture often bare this same weight; face this same struggle.
A couple years ago, I decided to try and stop using the possessive pronoun, “my”. The reasoning for this was layered and often undetermined. I simply felt uncomfortable; being sure that my body, my feelings, my thoughts were the only energies I felt were truly belonging to myself.
Often times, it was driven by the disdain I have developed for the monetary system and the power it often gives undeserving individuals. This was most likely developed by the material driven culture I was raised within. I moved from a place primarily owned by all people to a county where 95% of the land is privatized. That probably fed the fire a bit.
Other moments, I felt a ping of fear as it came out: “my horse” “my dog” “my goats”– feeling as though I was risking my own freedom by condoning the commodification of other beings, human or not. I liked to [sometimes ignorantly] ponder the possibility of these being symbiotic relationships, ones that both parties were choosing to be a part of.
I found it lost all romance, unable to even describe the man I said yes to, as “my fiance”. It made me nauseous to be defined as his and guilty to call him mine. I feared in the use of this pronoun I was hindering his independence and my own. Unfortunately, we often became frustrated, feeling we lacked an alternative determiner.
This shared insight empowered a new realization; Perhaps this word is meant to be used, just more thoughtfully. I desire for it be received from me not in any manner that implies possession, but as a declaration of commitment, responsibility and love.
This approach allowed me to imagine a healthier relationship with the landscapes and life surrounding us; promoting the dissipation of our battle with the economic system which has allowed -forced at times- all life to become commodities within it. Being granted the ability to purchase beings and ecosystems should not void the responsibility to care for them.
This is our land, these are our animals, this is our home. I truly believe we should not conform to a system that demeans them to dollar signs… and then often sells them to the highest bidder.
This can quickly and effectively remove a majority of us community members from the equation, decreasing the pride and care we take as we move through our shared spaces.
The included image came to mind which I snapped 10 days prior to now. When I saw this crushed pheasant [one I had consciously avoided only 12 hours before] I felt defensive of my community, my neighbors, my home. I wondered if the driver was from out of town, or was driving on their own roads too; had they consciously hit one of our neighbors or were they just driving carelessly through?
In beginning this discussion, I am determined to remain humble, hoping to feed more transformation in this word and many other terms of possession; we could possibly even redefine the meaning of ownership. Contributions and insights from your own hearts and minds are welcome.
If you own land, I imagine you have given thought to what it means to be a landowner. If you own animals, I am curious if you feel you belong as much to them as they do you. If you own none of the things one might own, I am curious if you feel your influence on the ecosystems you are a part of, is affected by your lack of possession. If you have no response to these topics, because you give thought to words made of more than two letters, your vocabulary most likely surpasses mine. Sometimes I am unsure I am using my brain power on the right things.
Thank you for being here my friends.