Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conceptions of Belonging and Legal Relationships In a Changing World

I don't know where my home is... in my mother's womb, in my self-created house, within my family unit, my academic or professional community, city, town, state or country? It is increasingly up for grabs as I connect to others far away and disconnect from myself and my immediate present through my crack-berry, telephone, computer. Confusion is resulting not only in my own life, but in the lives of my clients and colleagues. Non-US investors into world-wide ponzi schemes are connected to others thousands of miles away and to ostensible U.S. protections, protections that dissipate as soon as fraud and loss are uncovered. One kind of loss has a way of resulting in other losses...strangely enough, aspects of belonging we thought we had can vanish with the wind. But loss engenders human connection too, at least on informal levels. Formality does not appear to befriend loss... requiring the insertion of litigators; requiring changing interpretations of existing legislation in view of changed circumstance.

To me, home is a conception of belonging, a form of acceptance of self as is, recognizing its fragility, strength, and the weaknesses attached to a specific spirit embodied uniquely in one human form. Where do I feel I really belong? Does anyone really care what I believe about my own sense of belonging... care in the sense of validating that belief with some formal power within the larger community so that obligations and rights can issue from my own sense of belonging? Or must I be done to? I am born into a family, into a town or city, into a country and told what I believe and indoctrinated into the program of a specific country, unless of course, I am a military brat or have otherwise been carted all over the world through any number of scenarios mongrelizing my programming. I am allowed to cast a vote if I happen to be a citizen of the country I also happen to live in (a privilege I have not owned for some 17 years now) so I can impact the rules made by legislators at the various levels of my belonging.

Other conceptions of belonging (literature on the "commons") address the widening meanings of community and arguably widening rights or possibility of impacting those rules and rights but not necessarily the shrinking and loss sustained in self. As my sense of belonging changes, I lose parts of my self as much if not more than I gain. Take the role of technology I touch upon above. For that matter, consider how much more I touch cold hard steel and keys on a board these days than fruit, skin, heat attached to another human or animal... does that change what/where I may sense my belonging. I belong in my head much more than in my skin? How do I connect now? In the same way or differently?

I chat/skype/call with others far away and sometimes I conduct whole transactions with people I have never met... investing thousands of dollars with them, even my entire life savings, often counting on other espoused experts (advisers) to counsel me and tell me that my money is insured, protected by government agencies. Perhaps the dollars are the real connective tool, formal in the sense of trust represented by the guaranteed exchange, often even connected to the spiritual or a higher power (note 'in God we Trust' or symbols of monarchs and inspirational figures). Money lost and won, connects us to others across borders. Professionals too can be positioned to create communities and transactions in a positive way. I find myself for instance at the center of community creation through value based and integrating litigation that assists in the processing of grief and loss toward a place of hope and eventual recovery validating the experience of belonging of clients around the world connected by fraud.

There are rules that allow for these fraudulent transactions to take place, agencies placed in positions of oversight, managers emboldened by government backing and support because they have attracted the funds necessary to be considered significant. Technological advances in place allow these connections to take place, but also allow innocents to fall prey to sociopathic predators. The Madoffs and Stanfords of the world are phantoms devoid of spirit and heart, leeching off families, elderly and innocents for the sole purpose of sustaining themselves and their unending appetite for material gain. The widening of a heart based commons (which includes legitimate rights and obligations of law-abiding individuals and entities), based on these same technological advances supports these financial vampires' cross border empires too. Clearly I have a problem seeing such predatory behavior as some attempt at regulatory arbitrage. Any support of such criminal behavior by countries denying protections to innocent cross-border investors condones and creates pariah models for upcoming generations (perhaps we should take note of the increasing number of vampire based TV shows).

Inevitably and from the rooted outset, home represents stability, familiarity, a certain exchange of power and comfort too... and involves one's heart. Formal and informal rules are integral to the exchanges of the home. Home does not need borders... just as one's family can extend to close friends, lovers, close colleagues, and even pets... home can extend to all the places where close and significant ties and contacts have been placed. The trust placed in the extension into such significant ties warrants a mutual recognition and assertion of one's rights in those other lands.