Saturday, December 10, 2011

Whos' land? Sorry this land ain't yours anymore

The concept of land ownership is an odd thing when you think about it. The earth after all has been here long before we were born and will be here long after we and our spawn have vanished. Exactly how did we get to this idea of imaginary boundaries with fences and guards and permits to cross? I think it just may be part of our DNA. From early beginnings we will fight for space whether it's two inches in the back seat of the family sedan with a bratty sister all the way up to a bunch of islands halfway across the world. As Carlin would say get your s**t out of there I want to put my stuff here. Ala a space for my stuff.
Then there's the issue of encroachment. That's sneaking into someone else's territory and claiming it as our own. Isn't that a 10 yard penalty in football? But with nations it's a different story. For one side it's the invaders but for the other it's the settlers (how quaint). One side becomes the regime another insurgents and not to forget freedom fighters and liberators. And how could I forget occupiers? That term that has made it into all facets of daily life now. The real problem is that there is little space left to call your own. You can't stay here and you can't stay there. No camping no sleeping no sitting on the sidewalk and of course we can't forget no loitering. So officer exactly where do you expect me to exist? What do you mean you don't care as long as it's not here? That's what the officer in the next town said when he kicked me out of there. Can't go on state land, need a permit for that. Can't go on federal land you'll get run off from there too. I hear Walmart is kind to campers but only if you have an RV.

That reminds me, this obsession with possession has gotten worse over the years. I remember some years back breaking down in a small town in Texas while on the road. I don't know if it was that small town neighborliness or the time period but I got multiple offers of help. Today it would be "you can't park here or we'll have you towed".

But to finish this piece of drivel with a fitting end I recall seeing in my many journeys a sign at the entry to a national park. It was one of those brown signs with white letter spelling out the law of the land. Went something like :

No Fishing
No Hunting
No littering
No loud music
No open flames or campfires
No picnics except in designated areas
No motor vehicles on trails
No gathering firewood

We hope you enjoy your stay

And today we have:

We hope you enjoy your stay


pygalgia said...

The concept of land ownership goes back to the earliest tribal communities. Claiming water and fertile land helped tribes prosper, although it also motivated other tribes to 'raid', thus creating something known as "war". We really haven't evolved all that much beyond these concepts.

Tom Harper said...

I've read that some Indian tribes, I don't remember which ones, had no concept of "owning" land. The whole concept of "owning" land was as far fetched to them as the idea of owning the sunrise or the air.

What a different world this would be if more people had that concept.

jadedj said...

Not much to do with land ownership, but rather your national park experience: I am thinking many contemporary regulations are coming from the American penchant for suing the shit out of each other for ridiculous transgressions, including getting injured on "public" lands.

Tom Harper, here is an article you might want to take a look at. It addresses, more or less, your comment. I found it interesting (sorry, I don't know how to link it here).

BBC said...

You didn't mention the fucking real estate agents.

I had to buy a permit this year to go into the state forest lands, and I'll have to buy another one next year, but my national park pass is a golden age card good for the rest of my life.

Oh well, the state forest lands here are so empty that I'm often alone, and that suits me just fine.

Randal Graves said...


Modern homo sapiens is just like Psycho in Stripes.

When I remember peanuts, I always feed the squirrels.

MRMacrum said...

Ownership of anything is nothing but a construct to describe various terms like stewardship, exploit, control. The land exists essentially forever. We do not. The land just switches caretakers.

Tom Harper said...

jadedj: Thanks for the link.

BBC said...

About the link jededj provided.

The natives did just fine until white men came along, and enlisted their help in almost killing all the beaver and buffalo.

Most hides were treated by the natives cuz they knew how to do them.

S.W. Anderson said...

"You can't stay here and you can't stay there."

The mountain men, trappers and cowboys of days gone by didn't have that problem. The land was largely open and free, and most small frontier towns understood about people passing through.

What you're complaining about is a function of increasing population and population density. It's as simple as that.

If you think it's bad here, take a look at what it's like in Japan and Hong Kong. Out of necessity, the Japanese are our direct opposites when it comes to attitude. From early childhood, Japanese children learn to respect elders, even kids just a year older. They learn early to conform and mind their manners in group settings. That's true whether the setting is a school bus stop, a classroom, playground, wherever. They fit in. They defer. They get along. They must because if they don't life would be wall-to-wall hard feelings if not outright mayhem.

Our problem, as we fill this continent, is that we cling to the attitudes of the old open west. People want to be the lone ranger, to do it their way, to thumb their nose at what others think, ignore what "the man" says they should do. Fitting in and getting along is for wusses.

There's a reason why few Japanese police officers carry a gun or need one, just as there's a reason so many American cops need one, carry one and still get blown away.
It goes back to upbringing, attitude and accepting the reality of one's situation.

The signs that irk you, Demeur, would probably not be necessary in Japan and a bunch of other countries. People would know through upbringing, experience and observing what others do and don't do. The attitude here often is, "Screw it; if I want to pitch a tent and build a fire here, let somebody try to make something out of it." Not that every American is that, way, of course. But even those who usually behave better sometimes would prefer to do their own thing with disregard for rules that they, personally, deem an unnecessary nuisance.

BBC said...

I go camping in areas where it's okay to camp. :-)