Living in a country that values property rights and home ownership, we often take it for granted that there is a clear divide between the public and the private, the outside community and the home. We value both of these spheres tremendously, but independently. We don't want the community at large to intrude upon our private property, and we want to keep family and other personal matters away from the public—for the public's good and ours.
But do Americans put too much stake in property rights? Does it lead to a harmful compartmentalization of our communal and private lives, partitioned at the doors to our homes? We don't have to give up all private property (history shows us this can have pretty terrible consequences), but perhaps we should treat it as an extension of the community—and of its public spaces—rather than as something distinctly our own. This would allow us to interact with our communities more fully, while also preserving some autonomy to develop our property as we see fit.
But is this vision too idealistic? Does it ignore the fact that not everyone in our communities is trustworthy? And if we treat private property as an extension of communal property, what bulwarks will we have against its seizure—say under the guise of eminent domain? Perhaps, then, we should be very explicit about where the public sphere ends and where the private one begins.
Join us this Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm in the Calhoun Parlor as we debate the value of land and locks. All are welcome!