What if we stand the notion of ownership on its head? What if I do not own the barn, but instead it owns me, or better, we own each other? What if I do not view it as my right to kill mice simply because I can, and because a piece of paper tells me I own their habitation? What if, because their habitation is near my own, I am responsible for their well-being? What if I take care of them and their community as the grandfather ponderosa outside this window takes care of me, and as before that the stars soothed me? This relationship of mutual care doesn't mean that none shall die, nor even that I won't kill anything, nor eventually be killed; it simply means we will treat each other with respect, and that neither will unnecessarily shit where the other bathes. The bees, too, stand in my purview, and so it becomes my responsibility to make sure, to the best of my abilities, that they can sustain their community. The same can be said for the communities of wild roses, native grasses, trees, frogs, mosquitos, ants, flies, bluebirds, bumblebees, and magpies that, too, call this their home. We all share responsibility toward each other and toward the soil, which in turn shares responsibility to each of us. What if all of life is not what we've been taught, a 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short' competition to see who may own or kill the others before the others can own or kill them? What if we don't need to live our whole lives alone? What if life is a web of immeasurably complex and respectful relationships? What if the purpose–even the evolutionary purpose–is for each of us to take responsibility for all those around us, to respect their own deepest needs, to esteem and be esteemed by them, to feed and feed off of them, to be sustained by their bodies and eventually to sustain them with our own?
— Derrick Jensen, from A Language Older Than Words
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Belated happy solstice, everyone!
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