The tragedy alluded to in the Tragedy of the Commons lies in the assignation of certain goods – in this case, trees – to collective proprietorship. If these trees were privately owned, intruders to the property are made criminals under the law. The property owner can rightly whack the intruders on the face if they persist. But under a collective property arrangement, there is a blurring of who are intruders and not; it’s one owner’s word against another’s. Depending on the strength of either side’s argument, the rest of the owners of this public good stands to summarily lose or gain. If you ask me, I’d say this is the craziest rule we humans have imposed upon ourselves – a yoke. I think that disputes between or among common owners concerning the fate of public goods such as trees and forests should be heard and decided upon by all the owners, not by a judge (who is by the way also a property owner of the public good); because I cannot imagine – nor anyone for that matter – how an individual though esteemed could morally represent the thoughts and choices of almost half a million property owners. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is even more conceivable than this.
A couple of days ago I heard in passing from the radio that the judge had a heart attack and had not revived. He too if I can say as much had his share of stress. Another thing about the Tragedy of the Commons is that there is in fact many tragedies.
What to do after the verdict? Bishop Cenzon has called on a few boycotts. I turn to a more creative response. In looking for ideas, I came across ‘Reconnected 1’ and ‘Reconnected 2’, organic sculptures made by Philippe Handford for the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Pendle Hill, Lanchashire, UK. The Trail tells the story of ten locals in Pendle Hill who were accused of witchcraft and hanged circa 1612. ‘Reconnected 1’ and ‘Reconnected 2’ are among the most striking sculptures in the Trail which are designed from illegally-felled trees. The medium and design are meant to represent the celebration of life.
For me, the bent supported forms show that humans are also limited – we can never put life back – the majesty back – to a felled tree.