Mine, All Mine


The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society.

~Jean Jacques Rousseau

We all talk about freedom and wanting to be free. If asked, there are few if any who would deny that to be free is very high on their list of desires in life. But what is freedom? If ever we were to find ourselves in the position of literally having nothing to lose, and to be cast adrift, free to do as we may, go where we wish, would we be happy?

I submit that we would not. we have a deep and abiding need to feel connected, and that sense of connection extends to property as much as to the people we care about.

Some primitive tribes have been exceptions to the rule. The Aboriginal people of Australia were completely unable to comprehend what was happening when the first white settlers began putting up fences to corral cattle. For them, the land belonged to no one and the concept of restricting it in any way was bizarre. As a result they were considered dangerous and anti-social and were driven into the Outback.

We too run the risk of censure and isolation if ever we were to take up the life of the hobo or wanderer. Few would ever choose such a life. But at the other end of the spectrum we have the likes of the photo you see on this post. It is a shot of what awaits anyone unfortunate enough to step off a ship in Suva, the capitol of Fiji , a country in the grip of of political upheaval after a bloodless coup by a military commander who now calls himself interim President. The presence of iron fences and barbed wire go hand in hand with the censure of the press and heavy handed tactics against anyone who disagrees with the president.

There are two sides to every story told by a picture, especially when a fence is involved. Especially when that fence is topped with barbed wire.

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