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. Zero Ground .
“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’ ”
Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Origin of the Inequality of Mankind
Every year, the wage paid for our labor stagnates, the purchasing power of our dollar sinks, and the value of our time is increasingly dictated toward the endless end of just getting by. And every year, the cost of the land beneath our feet — the land all humans need in order to live — inflates.
No matter how productive human society is, no matter how efficient, any new advance — in the way we buy our groceries or drive our cars or communicate with the world — is swallowed up by the one factor of our lives that is never made easier: rent.
This is the struggle for ground. Not just any ground, but the ground that keeps us comfortable within our happiness, the ground that we may point to and call “home,” the ground that the homeless do not have and that the displaced are losing daily. It is a mistake to say they are missing a roof or a window or a sink. Would providing all of this save them? They are losing home. Even as more and more material wealth is gathered in fewer and fewer arms, nothing opens our eyes wider to the inherent unfairness of our institutions than the reality that some have Zero Ground.
Would we tolerate our sisters and brothers drowning, knowing air is needed for life? Ground is also needed. There is not a human activity on Earth that does not require the Earth. Far too many of our neighbors are drowning.
The very root of our inequalities is based in this fact — the one we see at every urban corner and bus-stop bench, but fail to understand: possession of the Earth. Of all the mean dichotomies we observe under the rubric of Economy, the first and final cruelty is that some men are allowed to call ground “mine,” and the rest of us must pay for the privilege.
Zero Ground is dedicated to abolishing this unnecessity. Civil society, and all of its victories and joys, is built on uneven soil. Only in time, as the structure grew, could we see the tilt more clearly. It cannot stand like this another day.
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