“Flowers” | Photo by Kim Siever via Flickr/Commons CC PDM 1.0
In the Americas as well as the Philippines, where I grew up, the concept of land title or land ownership did not exist until the European colonizers and settlers arrived. After the big land grab, the natives of those lands were rendered destitute and homeless overnight in their homeland. The big push to colonize and exploit vast track of land for profit led to a paradigm shift in our perspective and relationship with Earth, Nature, and our natural environment. Now we are turning our sight to space exploration and exploitation of resources beyond our planet.
When you find yourself walking alone in some deserted forest and come upon a beautiful flower, would you be tempted to pluck and take possession of it? What are the chances other passersby will pick the same flower and take it home? Very likely, anyone will claim ownership of it, thinking, “Finders, keepers.”
It requires a certain morality to think and act otherwise. I can tell you with some certainty why most of us will take ownership of that beautiful flower. “I found it first, and nobody owns it,” we would be thinking. This action betrays the underlying attitude and perspective of our relationship with nature, with Earth. We want to own, possess it if we could. The state of our environment — the serious pollution of land, air, space, and sea, the desecration of forests and rivers — is a testament to this destructive urge to own.
It is this sense of entitlement that is hurting our environment. Do you ever stop to think of how individuals ever achieve “the right” to purchase a piece of Earth — forest, vast track of lands that include mountains, rivers, lakes, mines, etc.? The same right allows one to “exploit” his property, render it bare, fallow, and ultimately dead.
“It is this sense of entitlement that is hurting our environment. Do you ever stop to think of how individuals ever achieve “the right” to purchase a piece of Earth — forest, vast track of lands that include mountains, rivers, lakes, mines, etc.?”
The same logic supports our claim of the sea and the sky. What a megalomania! We have lost all sense of proportions of our real stature under the heavens. We act like privileged kings of the land where we are but guests to live out our short lives. The wanton destruction of our environment and the ill consequences that result from our acquisitive and exploitative tendencies will be disastrous in the end.
It is easy for me to think this way because I am not a big landowner. True. I am glad I am not one of them because I would probably be tempted to do the same thing. In all fairness, there are a few, only a few, who own and acquire vast tracks of land for preservation. May God bless them! They are genuinely honorable, and I consider them my favorite heroes.
But what is this desire to possess? What is the root of it? Why can’t we just leave a beautiful flower to bloom and adorn the place where we find it? It is almost a pathological form of selfishness to deprive others of the opportunity to enjoy the sight. I think we feel so separate from Nature, and a sense of alienation drives us to trample it.
“If we know that God has always been with us, there is no need to possess, to own, for we already have the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
A man who is deeply connected with Nature will perhaps experience rapture coming upon such beautiful sight. He will not have the need to possess or own for himself what he already has inside. He does not have a void to fill in his heart, for he does not see the distinction between himself and the manifestation of Nature around him. He knows he is complete. Our delusion of separateness alienates us from what is around us, from other people, from Earth, and the Cosmos.
If we know that God has always been with us, there is no need to possess, to own, for we already have the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at email@example.com.