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Who Owns the Earth?


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To the editors:

On your December 6 "Land Battle," well, I had to laugh. But I should have cried. Why is this an issue? Because people are people and people own land? Now, who really owns land? If you go on reading this letter, please keep that question in mind throughout.

I think I must be alienated from most people today, because I wish I could sympathize with one side or the other about the Land Battle, but the whole issue is entirely and dangerously distracting in the face of what is really happening on our planet. Stop Taking Our Land, I know this is supposed to sound literal, direct, and alarming, but come on, didn't it sound a little childish in your heads? Try saying it out loud. I laughed. In truth, the STOP activists frighten many of us because they actually want to bind the future of land and its "maintenance" to the ever fluctuating and someday doomed market. They are scared at the thought of other people picnicking on what was once their backyard. This particular fear is a great thing, it is a vertebra in the spine of this country; what keeps us where we are.

And what is this about constitutional rights? As if this constitution has the last say about who owns what land, and what you get to do to it because you own it. We all know that land itself obeys no law, it does what it pleases, and we do well to act accordingly. No matter who owns property.

Meanwhile, people in other parts of the world DIE because they are too poor to move off of the land (property) they live on and it just happened to be built upon a landfill, and behind them is a toxic waste incinerator. Shoshone Indians cling to the last of their land (property) (?) on their reservation because the DOE broke the treaty they made, took the land back, and tested nuclear bombs on it and above it. Forests all over the world, and namely one nearby, Illinois' Shawnee National Forest, are methodically decimated with your tax money for paper bags, pallets, and furniture. Our repeated tax loss is nothing compared to that of the wildlife there, left with no habitat.

You don't have to believe me, you don't have to read this. The real shit is out there if you want to see it, it's there. I've learned that most of us don't want to see it. Why should we when we can waste all our energy arguing about parks in our backyards, or making deals with chemical companies about conserving, preserving and enhancing already inhabited land? I'd like to think I somewhere deep inside understand the Openlands proposal, but this is impossible for me when I have seen so much uninhabited land (when I say uninhabited, I mean by humans) ripped apart, poisoned, and blown up.

What is the earth to you anyway? Something you can buy? What is nature? A "resource" that can be bargained with?

Nature and Earth are entities that cannot bargain, make deals and collaborate like humans can. They can only be and evolve like they always have, even before there were humans to interfere, enhance, or bargain with them.

I used to be like you. I feared extremes. I didn't want to look into the eyes of the Shoshone, or see the ravages of what a clearcut does to a forest body. I didn't ask to be an ULTRA environmentalist, but what do the STOP people mean when they say we don't know when to quit? I don't know if they are capable of understanding what fate our gritty earth is speedily racing toward from inside their cozy homes on the river!

This letter is for those of you who are disgusted or angry or maybe even afraid of ULTRA environmentalists like Earth First! whose motto is No Compromise In Defense Of Mother Earth. Dammit, what do humans want to do, teach the earth to compromise?

The Land Battle article mentioned how rude the STOP people can be because their homes are threatened. Keep in mind, especially the next time you hear of or read about an Earth First! action that we're rude too. And ULTRA disgusted at any Chicago citizen that wants to waste time arguing about who should or should not own land. Keep in mind that a much larger home is threatened and we do what we have to in the maybe crazy hope that someday we can all somehow live here without constantly tearing it down, polluting it, mutilating it, or blowing it all up.


Wicker Park

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