Mae gen i afal, what we would translate into English as “I have an apple,” literally means “There is an apple with me” in Welsh. In Celtic languages there is little concept of ownership, of “having” things. Things are not possessed by you; they are “with” you.
I think this is one of the most profound shifts the human race could make – to shift from the idea of ownership to ‘being with’. What would happen to us, where we believe we own everything from goods, to natural resources, to the planet, to each other, if we were to realize we don’t own a thing…not even the days we have ahead?
It’s not like it’s a new idea – many cultures, not just the Celtic culture, have seen, and continue to see, things this way.
As I pondered this, I thought of how things would change if we humans realized we don’t own each other, if we realized this about our partners, our children, our lovers, our family, and not just our human family, but also other living beings, the earth, all of life.
I don’t own a thing. Everything that surrounds me is ‘with’ me.
When I see it this way, I no longer feel things hierarchically, but rather relationally.
When I see it this way, I feel connection, relationship, mutuality, and kinship.
When I see it this way, I feel reverence for the dignity, autonomy, and sovereignty of the ‘other’ I am with.
When I see it this way, I see you next to me, not across from me. I see you with me, side by side, walking together.
When I see it this way, especially in relation to the Earth, I feel a sense of awe. When I see it this way, I come to know the grandeur of the Earth and the fact that She gives me life. Without her, I would not exist.
Without each other, we would not exist.
Without you, I would not exist.
What a slippery slope the possessive case has been, and continues to be. Language is powerful. How we use it creates how we see the world, each other and ourselves.
How might this shift cause you to see things differently?