“He’s his boyfriend, not yours, that’s not my problem, he’s a part of our family now, I’m so proud of my country, get off their lawn!” All too familiar refrains.
What if we dropped possessives from our language? Imagine the consequences of not delineating where I begin and you end? Imagine words that didn’t splinter like serpent tongues. Imagine the evaporation of fear when the mine, yours, theirs goes away.
It is almost impossible to contemplate such a world. And it seems crazy to even articulate such a fanciful idea. Yet, in fact, it is rather insane thinking that there is a division where no such division actually exists. That we actually own pieces of the earth, that we can rightfully horde water resources and sell them off to others, that we want to keep certain people out of our so-called country.
Possessives cause pain and more often than not spring forth from a bottomless well of fear. Our thirst cannot be quenched in endless pursuit of… A hopscotch skip, leap and jump from person to place to thing to person, place and thing over and over. Buddhism speaks of attachment and encourages its practitioners to move beyond this way of life as much as possible. To possess is not the same as oneness; resist the psychological, emotional, physical over-dependence on what cannot be owned. Far easier said than done.
In our culture, this suggestion may seem extremely radical. It is built into our very consumerist structure that our worth is directly tied to possession. The more the better, the better the quality, appearance and so forth, all the better still. This goes far beyond goods. It is the house we can or can’t buy, it’s the husband we must get and keep at all costs, it’s the clique we’re in and so-and-so isn’t, it’s the brand of clothes that we absolutely must have.
I have yet to research languages that don’t have or commonly use possessive terms, yet I suspect they are far more communal.
I challenge myself to question my own possessive tendencies in regard to friendships. Out of fear of rejection, loss I cling tighter. I struggle to belong anywhere. My social skills make it difficult for me to engage and/or draw others toward me. Yet, I know that this worry causes me more suffering than is necessary. I very much wish to let go of expectation. Release exclusion and envy into the wind to be blown gently beyond reach.
I wish to free myself, more and more from the bondage of ‘to have and to hold’, knowing this state cannot be eternal.