Is your lawn actually yours?

Linda Ballew went to court rather than mow her back lawn, but now she is reconsidering. Most people, including the judge, seem to think she is unable or too poor to mow her grass. This seems unlikely. She agreed to mow her front yard and made good on the promise. This is most likely a moral choice (0ne she feels strongly about) rather than mere negligence. Her neighbors are complaining that she has created a habitat for wildlife including nutria, skunks, and snakes. Apparently, neighbors don’t enjoy having wildlife experiences in the neighborhood.

This begs the question of what property rights owners have over their own property? If Ms. Ballew wanted to create a habitat for wildlife, is this not her right? Why do the rights of developers to destroy animal habitats seem to take legal precedence over those who would create or replace habitat? Ms. Ballew’s yard is described as “overgrown,” which means it is full of green plants that will reduce temperatures and cleanse the air. She is creating a green environment, an apparent evil in the US.

Millions of people around the world live in concert with nature rather than in a position of domination. Ms. Ballew challenges her neighbors to learn to live with nature rather than against it. She also challenges them to respect the idea that property owners can make choices about how their property is maintained. If she is, indeed, endangering her neighbors, there is a case to be made that she must stop endangering them, but this may not mean she must completely eliminate the wildlife refuge she has created.

Her righteously indignant neighbors probably have lawns filled with pesticides and dangerous additives that seep into the soil and everything else surrounding the lawn causing damage to animals, including animals of the human variety. These same neighbors surely never even question whether their actions may be causing harm to the environment, wildlife, or humans. Certainty is good when you can find it, but it is rare and should always be held in suspicion.

It is time to question the commitment most in the US have to the bland, overly-manicured lawn, and evaluate what values promote a better good overall. It is also time to recognize that those with differing values may have something to teach us. The answers to life’s questions are rarely clear, and opposing views help us explore our own ethical intuitions.

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Is your lawn actually yours?

  1. Anonymous says:

    It seems as though you are hitting on an issue that I see coming up more frequently, namely, that fact that the use of your own personal property must be used for the desired effect of that the seller has agreed upon, and that all people that could possibly be affected by any abnormal uses of that product also have a say in decisions involving that product. I think an important question to ask here is who is the benefactor of these policies. In the case of the manufacturer who is able to decide on the sole purpose of a product marketed, power is clearly being transferred from the consumer to manufacturer. The mere prospect that a manufacturer is now able to dictate any part of a customer’s future actions just because of a decision to purchase that manufacturer’s product seems almost too absurd to be true, but this notion seems to become the increasingly familiar territory of technology manufacturers.In the case of the article referenced though, we see power being transferred from the owner of the property to a society. I must note that the case at hand is quite the oppose of the previously mentioned case, in that the owner is not having their uses limited but instead being told how they must use a certain part of their property. This dictation shows a much more direct order of control over a consumer’s future activities. We also have to judge whether power taken from an individual’s hand and given to society is beneficial to society. I would believe that the society where the greater amount of power is given to the individual is more desirable to a majority of people than its counterpart. A society that is desired more grows and often replicated, therefore bringing longevity to the society.Now, in the two cases I mentioned, the common bond seems to be a removal of liberty through the subversive ideal of a consumer driven society. A consumer typically acquires new goods in order to be given more freedom (i.e. more options, abilities, etc.) but then finds more of their life planned out as a result of their property. We as consumers rarely take note of the hidden consequences of our rampant acquisitioning lifestyles that take away our own liberties. We even are willing to give up more our liberties to protect what we already have.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s