I have issues with concepts of ownership at the best of times.
Assuming that you aren’t doing some contact juggling when you ask that, I can only assume you’re talking about the planet upon which we rest.
I suspect that it is the process of assuming ownership of it that has led to this globe looking horrible.
And I take even more issue with the idea that this globe is in anyway horrible. A few almost parasitic hominids have certainly made a mess on the surface, but that doesn’t make the globe as a whole anything like horrible.
And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to diminish the damage we have wrought on the land, but I also think it’s arrogant to think that our suicidal instincts will do anything so bad as end this world. Our time on it, maybe. And we’ve irreparably wounded the lives of those we should be sharing this planet with.
We’ve done the horrible things. But the world will keep on turning, and life will go on.
And that’s as it should be really.
There is an order to things. Life and that.
Chuang Tzu was asked by a baker for the recipe for a happy life. Chuang Tzu rambled about the right way to make bread, putting one thing in then the next, then the next then you cook it.
Then he handed a piece of paper that made the baker shout with anger.
The paper simply said:
Father dies, son dies.
In response to the baker’s complaints Chuang Tzu said simply: ‘Imagine it the other way round.’
I don’t know if the baker was satisfied with this, but I certainly hold it important to remember that there is an order in which we do things. This extends to the ending of things. Including life.
The fact is, that the family lives on. As long as you’re willing to expand your family far enough.
So when we include uncle cockroach and aunty simple-microbial-lifeform, we know that we will survive the troubles we’ve made on this world.
The leaders of nations though, know that they are in too deep.
They can’t take a look at the big picture. They can’t take a step back and fondly regard creation.
There is a price to power.
It used to be the pity of war that’d give someone the proverbial 50 yard stare.
But now there’s an awareness that people are arranging deckchairs on the titanic.
Without even considering that those deckchairs might be tied together to make some kind of raft.
If we learnt to share.
Which we don’t, on an institutional level.
And therein lies the problem.
You get to the top, where the power lies, and you realise that you’re balancing on top of something solid and narrow. There’s no direction to move at all at the top.
And so you freeze.
I don’t envy them.
But I temper my loathing.
It’s a dirty job. But nobody HAS to do it.
Illustration by Lucy.