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“Mine.” Our familiarity and reliance upon the idea of entitlement that is made possible through language, presents a key example of how a life in words invites dissonance and fragmentation– ownership is an artificial creation for cooperation that nature has little time for, and the consequences of this disconnect have become embedded in our modern world.

(~4 Minute Read)

 

We have discussed previously the illusory nature of the Self, of how our language and ideas enforce the sensation that there is a concrete “me”, yet under any deal of scrutiny it quickly slips away. This illusion – of a concrete ego that is the subject of life’s blessings and burdens – runs deep within our notions of ownership and claim.

The notion of ownership, of property and “what’s owed”, does not just cover objects that are owned, but also “rights” and entitlement, for the same essential belief underpins these too:
 

There is a “me”, and I have “the right” to some separate thing or idea, that (generally) exists outside my “self”, I.e. is external to my mind.

Whether it be having the right to use or distribute an object, the right to behave or feel in some specific way, or any other manifestation of idea/belief imposed upon the world and others, the whole motion is necessarily obstructive and destructive. Why? Not only is any decision for something a decision against all else – my property is not yours – but because the process of imposing ideas on reality always fragments and produces trauma.

Just as with the agreement of ownership, the act of saying “I have a right to my emotions” is a useful tool— rights allow us to counteract and balance out the impositions the world has (seemingly) placed upon us:
We claim property, so as to ‘defend’ it against others’ attempts to take it from us; we claim rights to feelings (or otherwise) so as to create a safe space from others’ infringements on our ‘needs’. Yet these claims ultimately only serve to perpetuate the cycles of taking and fragmenting, for every time reality is demarcated and boundaries drawn around x or y claim, somebody else inevitably feels ‘robbed’.

A right to water or shelter is clearly a constructive foundation for global, moral cooperation. But while this structure may seem essential on the political or societal scale, to help form order and distribute welfare, devout or complacent adherence to it – belief in its reality – poisons the mind and leads to a distorted world-view, wherein the viewer looks-for and acts-by a world portioned into “what’s fair” (or not), but meets-with a world where all is in flux; where the poor man is just as deserving of gold, and the rich man has no security against ill fortune or death.

Claims provide an incredibly powerful structure from which we may build our uniquely populous societies, but as soon as we begin to mistake this structure for reality – the moment we believe in our own entitlement – we invite discord and dissonance: we justify hoarding natural resources at the cost of nourishing those that would care for us; we become complacent and unprepared for life’s harsher realities by hiding in the comforts it affords us; we allow ourselves to lash out at loved ones through devout conviction to our right to feel a certain way…

Money is power, and the pinnacle of claim, but power corrupts; ownership, rights, and claims all shift the flow in favour of those “entitled” to them (according to crowd agreement), but no human is able to manipulate the flow for long. The costs of money are the clearest and most concerning example of claim’s reach– everyday I am confronted with obscure examples of how our reliance on money has warped a basic human necessity, and how an otherwise bountiful earth is growing moldy from greed’s neglect.

Consider that an exercise to bring this idea home: as you go about your daily life, see if you can notice both the blessings and burdens of a world built on claims; more importantly, try to discover what you feel entitled to, instead of simply grateful for…

Is claim a necessity– can we cooperate without it? Does it need to be destructive, or could we form a functioning economy that doesn’t necessitate the robbing of some for others? Help broaden the discussion in the comments below!

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