Feuding families and feudal tribes attack each other because they hate each other’s miniscule differences and they want more territory. Do horse thieves still get hung? I dunno. Normally meek and mellow individuals sue the folks next door over boundaries, and corporations devour each other’s assets in the womb.
Recently, technology has allowed us to weave a tangled web of proprietary do’s and don’ts via the power to electronically share information. Who knew data, little — 0's and I's — could be so ludicrously valuable? Everyone from Warner Brothers and Google, to the local patent-crazy inventor to the CIA and the Supreme Court has weighed in on intellectual property and the difference between stealing, sharing and disseminating.
Over too much of our planet, women and girls, men and boys are still considered to be property to be stolen, bought, sold. Misery. Land, oil, people, people, places, even events are up for grabs.
Given its consequences, I suggest that the ownership of property sucks.
Context is everything but why not follow Marx’s dream: ‘To each according to his [or her] need; from each according to his [or her] abilities.” Sure, Marx’s 1848 rumination lost a little in the translation, but I suggest we either give it all away, the way many utopian anarchists tried in the 1960s or…
We figure out a better way to interpret 20th Century American poet Robert Frost's observation that 'good fences make good neighbors.'
Which leads me to another element of property and thievery. Frost didn't invent this good fence homily. It's been around forever. A century and a half before Frost, Benjamin Franklin wrote 'Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge' in Poor Richard's Almanack.
Property theft can lead to all kinds of hassles and enormous efforts to determine who owns what nation, farm, man, woman, or idea. We've briefly explored a few efforts to soften the archaic, Neolithic notion of 'mine.' Moving on...
What about ownership and thievery in the creative process? Yeah, I like copyrights and I don’t want my words stolen, but what about thievery as an asset?
Frost stole from Franklin. Or did he build on another writers idea? Musicians 'steal' each others stuff all the time… Or do they pull rhythms and melodies from a timeless musical tradition that extends from the shaman’s drum to tribal story telling to Mozart learning from Haydn to hip hop adopting jazz?
Bob Dylan 'stole' from traditional folk music. Mozart 'stole' from Haydn. Of course it isn't thievery. Mark Twain calls it ‘borrowing.’ Stealing, thievery, borrowing, call it what you may it’s part of the creative process.