Boundaries. “A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” Arthur Baer
In order to have a structurally sound Stonebridge, there must be boundaries. Actually a well constructed bridge serves just that purpose: to be a boundary from the pitfalls below and to the sides of the path you are on. I introduced a discussion on boundaries in Boundary Lines and Ancient Landmarks proposing boundaries that should not be messed with and others that should. One of the boundary areas I introduced was physical or geographical boundaries. It seems a safe, straight forward subject to tackle, but I sense a rant coming on, so stand-by. First, a bit of history and cultural context to get us going.
The idea of geographical boundaries in history goes to the heart of land and property ownership. This is a subject as long as the history of the earth and point of views range from “no one really owns land” to “I can do whatever I wish with what I own”. Who can and cannot own land, or any property for that matter, also widely varies. Since I am an American, which is a common law based system, most of what I have to say will rest in that camp.
In reality, the idea of owning property is biblical and our laws for ownership are rooted from that source. It is simple, if a piece of property is for sale, you buy it, you get a title-deed or receipt, you own the property. It is yours to live on, cultivate, build on, put a fence up around it, use it and protect it. You have a right as to who can come onto or use your property and who cannot. It is yours.
This holds true for other kinds of property such as clothing, vehicles and other stuff one purchases. Animals fall into this as well, but as living things, hold a higher place in the order of ownership . The bottom line is when you purchase an item, you own it. For another to take, use, touch or “borrow” any item not purchased by them is stealing. Stepping onto private property without permission or invitation is trespassing. Both are violations of a boundary. Period.
As a result, there are laws that support boundaries. We seem to have lost sight of this. There was a time when I could leave my bicycle, or any other piece of property, in my front yard with no fence and it would still be there the next day. Cars were not locked and keys (gasp) were left in the ignition . Doors were not locked nor were gates in fences, which were more for decoration or to keep four-legged creatures in or out as appropriate, than to prevent trespassing.
Now, I will say that as kids we did wander into other’s yards to play hide and seek. There seemed to be implicit permission for such things, however, it was closely guarded and monitored by parents so as not to be abused. There were limits, although I could not tell you what they were exactly. We just knew. I think it had to do more with intent and respect. While engaged in play, we were not coveting anything, just, well, playing.
This is at the heart of the matter when geographical or physical boundaries are violated. I recently went to the gym and noticed broken glass in the parking spot next to mine. I commented to the attendant inside. He said one of the members had left her purse on the seat and someone broke the car window to take it. The car was locked. The car and the purse were hers. The response by the authorities? She should not have left the purse on the seat! Not, “we will get this person”, not indignation, not even “this person was wrong”. We will take a report.
This is where my rant starts.
We have it all backwards. The person who violated this boundary of a locked car to take property that was not theirs was completely in the wrong. They coveted something that was not theirs and stole it. They violated sacred boundaries. Because of this “don’t become a victim of crime” mentality, we have become a defensive fearful people when we all know it takes a good strong offense to win. Furthermore, this kind of mentality cultivates coveting, even makes a game out of it. It needs to stop. It is not healthy for anyone. It if it not yours, don’t touch it. Don’t even look at it with desire. When you do you are a common thief and your covetous heart is showing.
With ownership does come responsibility. Responsibility to care for, maintain and even share what you own. In biblical times, farmers were commanded to leave some of the harvest behind so that the poor could come along and glean for their own food. This served two purposes. First, it cultivated generosity among the land owners, rather than a hoarding mentality. Second, it gave the non-owners the dignity of working to gather their own food, rather than simply receiving a handout or stealing it. This was with the full understanding and knowledge of all involved. It was not wandering onto private property and taking at will what was laying about. There is a difference.
We need a renewed grip on this geographical boundary thing. This is an ancient boundary that needs rediscovery. It is not about goods and material things, it is a matter of the hearts of all concerned. Will I continue to lock things up, hide things and use security systems? Probably. Will I continue to exercise my second amendment right to protect my boundaries appropriately? Absolutely. This is the challenge: examining how to move from a defensive mind-set to an offensive one preserving the ancient boundary of ownership in tact while allowing generosity to prevail.
What is one action you can take this week to identify and restore your damaged geopgraphical?