The following article is Written by Stephanie Fox, director of One Solution Middle East.
The human mind is amazing. It is constantly inventing things, including concepts. One of the ironies about the human condition is that we invent things with our minds and then forget we did it and live our lives as if the concept or thing had it own significance, independent of our own minds. For example, prior to the 1940’s, the concept of “teenager” didn’t exist. Humans considered other humans either children or adults, with no culturally accepted concepts of the in-between years. That changed with an article in a 1944 edition of Life magazine that introduced the mind-made concept of teenager. The process of this concept coming into being followed the same process as all concepts - it occurred in a human mind and then a human took action to make it a “fact” in the physical world (in this case, a writer in a magazine). This concept was then accepted and adopted by other human minds and in a very short while, the mind-made concept of “teenager” appeared as if it had it’s own reality in the world, independent of the mind who invented it and the other minds who accepted it. After all, look around – there are teenagers everywhere!
Similarly, the human mind invented the concept of ownership. This fact was first brought to my attention in a Hebrew class in 2013 when it came time to learn the verb “to have”. My teacher explained Hebrew doesn’t have that verb and other linguistic constructs are used to indicate possession. When I asked her why Hebrew didn’t have the verb “to have” she explained that it’s because “God owns everything; it’s nonsensical for humans to use words that imply we do.” When I relayed this story to an Arabic speaking friend, he said the same thing. “Oh yeah, we have the same thing. There is no such thing as the verb “to have” as you have in English. Everything belongs to God, and we are like custodians.”
I find it fascinating that two of the most ancient, spiritual languages on the planet point to the fact that the concept of human ownership is a creation of the human mind. And that it is the more modern languages that evolved after Hebrew and Arabic, that began to embed the concept of ownership into our realities through the creation of verbs like “to have.”
All of this is not to make a judgment about the concept of ownership or in any way suggest it is not useful. I wish to merely point out the fact that humans created it. And sometimes we create things that result in problems, problems that get people hurt and killed. Problems that we all want to be resolved forever. When this happens, we can try and deal with the problematic concept that we created OR, we can be in the much more powerful position to know that we created it in the first place and know we have the power to create again, and again, and again. When you see that the world to date - including the concept of ownership of a city - is only a reflection of what our minds have created so far, possibilities open up to create something new. You get curious about what else we could create.
One Solution is working with youth in the region to show them the power of their own minds. We are showing youth the source of experience and creativity, which will empower them to manage and even transcendent the most difficult of situations. We are teaching youth that we are only stuck with the world that we have created so far if we don’t understand where it came from – our own minds.
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