By Phil Smith
Early in Part 2 of an old Dr Who episode, ‘The End of Time’, the Doctor is bound as a prisoner of the Master, a very intelligent villain who wants to own and control the world. Dr Who laments the waste of his captor’s brilliance on the pursuit of control. For a moment or two, his words cut through the shell of the Master:
You could be so wonderful. You’re a genius. You’re stone-cold brilliant. You are. I swear you really are.
But you could be so much more. You could be beautiful.
With a mind like that, we could travel the stars. It would be my honour.
‘Cause you don’t need to own the universe. Just see it.
And have the privilege of seeing the whole of time and space.
That’s ownership enough.
That’s ownership enough. That’s ownership enough. You don’t have to own the universe. Just own the experience of seeing it, living in it, enjoying it, and looking after it.
We forget we are not forever. But we forget that our actions and impacts on people and planet outlast us. We forget that we are temporary beings who are passing through, just as our children are passing through us.
Kahlil Gibran put it this way:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
We cannot own the planet or our children, but we can own and rejoice in the responsibilities of healthy custodianship and parenthood.
The desire to own drives in large part species extinction, climate change, land degradation. Aldo Leopold believed, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Can we make this mental switch?
Imagine challenging the myths of ownership – car, house, latest phone… Imagine taking ‘want’ out of the formula and only satisfying needs. Imagine purchasing something with intention beyond how you think it will make you look or feel for a short time.
Imagine enjoying things without owning them. Imagine downsizing stuff and debt, and then being more with less. Imagine removing the myths attached to attachment and then enjoy borrowing or sharing what you need. Imagine wriggling free from the bonds of consumerism and breathing deep with the new space you create for yourself and family and friends!
We are passing through, but we have a chance to leave a legacy that is positive. Owning such a chance is also ownership enough.
Feature Image: Ownership. By ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com