When discussing the philosophy of freedom, most areas are clear cut and easy to understand. However there are some areas which might sound a bit fuzzy and unclear.


Freedom by its very nature is so intertwined with ownership. This can be defined. A thing can be owned, if it has a boundary, under the control of the owner, and can be destroyed.


This writing is not about the wisdom or non-wisdom of destruction, I simply state one criteria of ownership is whether or not the so-called owner of a thing, is within his rights to destroy. And if he cannot destroy without permission from another, he in fact does not own. Ownership of property is a total concept, and ones right to destroy is a part of that total concept.


Another criterion of ownership is a boundary.  We can’t own anything that does not have a boundary. Let’s take for example, perfume, once bottled, it can be owned, because the bottle which contains it has a boundary. On the other hand, once sprayed into the atmosphere, it is no longer owned by anyone because no boundary can be established.


So the question is how one determines a trespass or violation of one’s freedom a right to own property when it contradicts the will of the owner.


I’m going to cite some examples which may be over-simplification to some or downright ridiculous to others.


Let’s say I have a neighbor I’m very close friends with. She bought and paid for a house across the street from me. I know she goes to work every day and usually leaves her back door unlocked.


I decide I’m going to bake a cake, but discover I’m out of sugar, and figure it would be ok, with my neighbor if I went across the street, entered her house and borrowed a cup of sugar while she’s at work. It’s my assumption this would be acceptable to her.


However, when she comes home and I tell her I had entered her house and borrowed a cup of sugar, she objected, and let me know it was not an acceptable action on my behalf.  At that point then I must acknowledge I have trespassed, and assure her it will not happen again.


I had crossed the boundaries of her property without her consent. This is in an area we describe as a “forgiven trespass.”  An area when I, as the violator, could reasonably assume it would be ok, without contact with the owner over the incident but once the contact was made, and the owner expressed her disapproval, clearly I had trespassed.


Going a step further, this example involves a principle and a value judgment, two entirely different concepts. The principle in the action violates ones property rights and it was a value judgment in my assumption at the time it would not be an objection by the owner. My actions were wrong and I had trespassed. And irresponsible of me to assume it would be okay. Therefore, I admit it, apologize, and assure my neighbor it will not happen again.


Another example: Let’s say I go shopping, park my car in a public parking lot and when I step out, a man standing about ten feet away, points a gun at me, shoots, and misses. While still pointing a gun at me, I take my gun out of my purse and shoot him. He falls to the ground, but lives. From the standpoint of the principle of freedom and ownership of property, did I commit an immoral act?


I own my body, which has a boundary, and commensurate with ownership is responsibility for it. Therefore it’s my responsibility to protect and take care of my life. It’s not up for grabs. If the threat of destruction is so imminent, the law of survival and self-preservation kicks in and I react to protect my life. The shooter had violated my right to life and self preservation, by his decision to trespass and release a bullet towards me. Not only do I have a right to protect that which I own, I have a responsibility to protect it. On the other hand, the perpetrator has a responsibility of self-control.  When he abandoned his responsibility and took aim to destroy my life, he set in motion an event which caused his own injury.



Let’s take another example: My child has been kidnapped. He has been taken from my home in violation of my will and the will of the child. After the kidnapping, he calls and demands ransom. I know who he is and where he lives. I go to his house with a gun in hand, break a window, enter his property, and point the gun at him to release my child. He complies; I back out of the house with my child in hand, still pointing the gun at him. Did I commit an immoral act?


Yes, when I crossed the boundary of his property, by entering without his permission, and in violation of his will, I had trespassed. I had violated his property rights. I knew I was trespassing when I did it. Unlike the situation of borrowing a cup of sugar, I knew I was violating his property rights when I entered. But my responsibility is first and foremost to protect my child. Did I commit a wrong? Yes. Was it justifiable?  I don’t really know. I do not know whether or not a person can justify committing a wrongful act knowingly… my opinion is one cannot.


What I do know is individual freedom is self-responsibility and self-control. We are responsible to be in control of that which we own. That does not mean we are perfect and never make mistakes. It goes without saying we as human beings do make mistakes. However, living in this society, the greater the understanding of freedom, by all of us in this society, the less we are apt to trespass and steal from each other, the more respects we are apt to have for the boundaries of property ownership of others.


I’ll relate just one other personal story which happened to me recently. I had a lady housekeeper, who came twice a month. I really liked her, she was very good at house-cleaning, and I paid her for her work. She lived nearby, was Mexican, a single mother with three children. She seemed quite trustworthy.  I adored her children and they frequently played with my grandchildren.


I had this beautiful small porcelain clock, made in Germany, for several years and it was a gift. I always kept it in a cabinet in my TV room. Since living here I never took it out of the cabinet. A couple of weeks ago after her last visit, I stopped in to see her and in a curio cabinet in her home I saw a porcelain clock like mine. I remarked I had one like it. She said this one is not for sale. I came home searched for mine and it was missing. I called her over and told her to bring the clock. 


When I asked her why she took it, she vehemently denied stealing it, saying she had bought it from me. I said it’s not for sale and never out of the cabinet, does not have legs to walk to your house.  She repeatedly denied stealing it in the face of undeniable truth.


I could have made a police report or reported her to immigration authorities, but chose not to. The clock was returned, but I lost a friend, a neighbor and house keeper. I was upset and saddened over the incident. Such is the tragedy of thievery.


When thievery takes place, whether it’s by an individual or legal plunder, the removal of one’s property in violation of the will of the owner, is a wrongful act, and in my opinion can never be justified, and always has undesirable consequences. But there are some instances when a perpetrator can make amends.


As we move further and further down the road of Socialism, which is a system that denies private ownership of property, the more insatiable the appetite of political government becomes. 

The intensity of the efforts to take more and more is matched by the denial the legal plunder is stealing. The greater the denial it’s a system of Socialism. We are hammered with eloquent speeches of justification.


If we have any chance of stopping the onslaught, it can only come through an understanding of individual freedom and private property rights.


Feel free to make any comments. I invite you to express your opinion.






Email: annecleveland@bellsouth.net




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0 Responses to Tresspassing – Boundaries – Ownership (Issue 170)

  1. In your kidnapping scenario, I would say that in a free society you would take your chances, do what you know you must do, even to the point of violating the kidnapper’s property rights, and then willingly accept any consequences afterwards. I don’t think the incident would ever make it to a dispute resolution organization, but if it did, you might pay the kidnapper a pittance while he pays you a very hefty sum due to his trespass and kidnapping. After all, your trespassing and his cancel out. No one would reasonably shun you for your actions.