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One of my favorite scenes from “Crocodile Dundee” is where the New York City reporter is asking Dundee whether ownership of some land should be returned to the aboriginals.
Dundee says, “See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.”
Ownership is a bizarre concept, but not singularly peculiar to humans. Dogs will tussle over who owns a piece of rope and wild animals mark “their territory.” But does anyone really own anything?
I think it’s more about control than ownership. When we use the word “own”, we mean the right to control.
Perhaps that’s what separates humans from civilized animals. Animals claim ownership and then exercise control over what they claim. Humans identify what they want to control, then claim abstract ownership to justify that control.
OK, I admit it. I like control. Some pitch man on TV starts screaming at me, telling me why I can’t live another day without buying some superglue that will allow me glue cinder blocks to my kitchen ceiling.
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