Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Ownership

One more word about the Ubuntu house.  I promise it's only one word-- and it leads us into a totally different subject:

Harvey did a sneaky thing with the rig he invented to make the compressed plastic blocks. Unlike his other inventions, he did not get this one patented. He put the plans for making the rig on the Internet as open source.This act assures that no one can ever claim the idea for themselves and make money off of it. Harvey will never patent it and no one else will be able to either. No one person will ever own this idea.

Coincidentally, there’s an open-source software called Ubuntu. They operate on the same principle. It’s free to anyone who wants it. Beaven likes it because it stays below the radar and nobody has come up with viruses for it. He thinks he’s getting more for his money and that’s true since he didn’t pay anything for it to start with.

Who came up with the idea of “ownership," anyway? How do we “own” something?

We may “own” the house we live in because we paid for some men to build it. But the idea of “owning” the land it sits on is starting to make me think

 How do you “own” land?

Doesn’t the earth belong to God? God created it. Did we pay God for our acreage? No—we paid somebody else and they paid somebody else and someone was the first to “own” it which really just means they “claimed” it.

Historically, because we couldn’t figure out a way to “acquire” land (from God or the people who were using it) we just stole it. Or maybe we just squatted and grew a garden and put a fence around the crops and told the neighbor to keep his sheep out of our corn. Maybe we gained the rights to the land by working it and taking care of it. But that’s not always the case.

Just about every speck of land on earth is now claimed by someone. Maybe a couple of icebergs at the North Pole are still up for grabs. But even the farthest back acreage of the jungles is part of a country. And this “ownership” is usually gained by either fighting a war to get it or by overpowering by wits. Maybe we purchased Alaska from Russia but where did Russia get the right to call the land theirs to start with?

And what was the first thing we did when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon? Yeah…we planted a flag, a United States flag. Does that mean we own the moon now? If Russia went there and started building houses would they have to pay us?

I own stuff like a TV and some cheap shoes from Walmart. I paid money for someone to make them and hopefully they paid laborers a fair wage to glue it all together for me. But where did the manufacturers get the right to take possession of the oil or sand or ore that went into plastic, glass or metal that made up the raw ingredients?

When we bought our land out here in East Texas they told us all the mineral rights in this part of Texas had already been purchased by someone else.   Someone else who sucked up all the oil there was and moved on so it wouldn't have done us any good to own the mineral rights, anyway; there isn't any oil left.  Mineral rights?

Will we eventually have to buy water rights?  Or sunlight rights?

What gives anyone the right to take dirt out of the earth I share with you and extracting oil, glass, coal, and metals from it? Who owns the planet? And who decides how we use it? If we mistreat it who is there to tell us to stop?

Someone , someday, needs to introduce a “Crimes Against the Planet” law. What’s to stop the nutcases of the planet from blowing up their side and sending waves of toxic stuff over to my side? Or drilling enough holes that shifts the tectonic plate that I live on? We’ve turned the planet into Swiss cheese with all our drilling and digging. It’s only a matter of time until it starts to collapse, which- come to think of it-- it has already has (Fracking, anyone?).




Give me a few seconds to wipe the foam off my mouth and I’ll finish up, I promise. I know this is unattractive.

I can buy raw milk from a local dairy called Jersey Girls. It’s tasty milk. The cows live off the grass that grows in their pastures. The milk goes straight from the cow to me without any money spent to pasteurize or homogenize it. It’s tasty milk and it comes to me almost straight from the cow. Jersey Girls is a small family operation. Sometimes when I go to get milk there isn't even anyone in the office.  There's a note telling me to just put my money in the box on the desk and get the milk out of the refrigerator.   This is the kind of food I’m growing to like.

Jersey Girls is about as pure as an organization gets. The land is there, the grass is there-- and somebody needs to be stewards of these gifts God has given us. Jersey Girls Dairy is a good steward.

Uh Oh--now I’m into the concept of Stewardship. And every Presbyterian knows we don’t talk about that until September so I have to close now.

I will leave you with the same scripture I used a few weeks ago. Remarkably, I used it last year at this time. I swear I don’t remember it but I did. I think God is trying to tell us something. My new favorite scripture:  Acts 4:32-35


The community of believers was of one heart and mind,

and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,

but they had everything in common.

With great power the apostles bore witness

to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,

and great favor was accorded them all.

There was no needy person among them,

for those who owned property or houses would sell them,

bring the proceeds of the sale,

and put them at the feet of the apostles,

and they were distributed to each according to need             


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