Who owns the sun? Or the fish?

  • By Catie Quinn
  • Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:30pm
  • News

It’s time for a little perspective.

A man once bought a block of land. On it, he built nice house, but nothing special. He invested in that house and built a family around it and gradually rebuilt the walls and windows, replaced the carpets, made general upgrades. He made those upgrades for the sake of his family and to hopefully one day get a return for the time and money he invested.

Then he got neighbors. They were nice neighbors, good people, who were kind and friendly and helpful. But they liked the sunny clearing in his front yard, so they started camping out there in their lawn chairs. At first it was just one or two, so the man smiled and waved from his window as he continued to work on new bathroom plumbing. Then it was 10, then 20. Suddenly, the city police came down and started organizing the encampment, so that everyone could get equal time in the sun.

Around this time, the man emerged from his basement where he’d just finished converting the concrete walls and floor into a family room. What happened to his yard? There were traffic cones and people had worn little pathways across to the best spots to catch the sun. “The sunlight belongs to us all,” they argued, and in his confusion he had to agree. “Sunshine is common property,” he mused, and went back inside to escape the noise of crying children and men arguing over who was next in line.

In the quiet recesses of his kitchen, the man looked at his family and wondered how this had happened. They moved quietly in and out of their rooms for a few days, going about their business, wondering if they’d ever get their home back.

Then they started to hear chanting out front. The timid family moved closer to the window to see what was going on.

The campers had united and a leader stepped out in front. “It’s time for more sunshine for all of us!” he declared proudly. “This family doesn’t own the sun! We deserve our share. Let’s tear down the house!”

Because this was a polite democracy, they even decided to hold a vote. The family crawled out to the quietest corner of the yard and cast their ballots.

“And the results are in!” shouted the charismatic leader. “857 in favor, 4 against. I hereby declare this house rightfully rubble!”

And so the kind, happy, friendly people pitched in, helping each other kindly pull the house apart, plank by plank, window by window. The family tried to stop them, running to and fro, but in the end all they could do was gather their things and stand back.

“You don’t own the sun,” the people told them pointedly. “It’s not fair that you have so much of it and we have so little,” they warned.

At the end of the day, as the last rays receded and the moon pulled higher into the sky, the kind happy people went home and the family sat in what once was their living room.

How had this happened? They had never wanted to steal all the sunshine, all they wanted was to build a home, invest in something which could be passed along to their children, and live a quiet life in their own little piece of paradise. 

They had a deed with their name on it, a legal agreement that they could build something on this land, but it seemed that counted for little in this kind, friendly democracy.

Heck, it’s not like they were commercial fishermen trying to make a living … or is it?

Catie Quinn lives in Kenai. This opinion first aired on KSRM 920AM on July 23 and was submitted for publication in the Homer News.

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