When I arrived in Beijing in the early 1990s, the air was visible. People routinely wore surgical masks on the street. In that smog, I realized that boundaries between nations, and indeed between people, are illusory and ultimately unenforceable. The boundaries of nations had no impact on the movement of air, and China’s pollutants could not be confined to the nation that produced them.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, the world is “The Commons.” Our actions and our ideas cannot be bound by so-called borders, and each of us constantly contributes to the commons. The question is not, “Will you contribute to the commons?” The question is, “What are we contributing to the commons, and is our contribution what we intended?”
What can we intentionally, purposefully, and consciously contribute to the commons for the good of all? What do we contribute to the commons that creates pain for others and does not advance civilization?
Each of us is an inevitable contributor to and recipient from the commons. Each of us is invested with the power to make a difference in the commons with our every thought, every action, every omission.
What are you contributing to the commons?