Is the use of the ‘my’ possessive such a problem? I think so, for it defines the speaker as the reference point of all things. Me. Mine. The human ego is a slippery critter and does much harm. Ownership is one of its favourite claims. Do I have life or does life have me? The latter I think.
I shiver very slightly when people speak of ‘my career’. For two reasons. One is the ‘my’ again; the other is the pretension of it. I’d rather speak of the work I do. I realise this line of thinking – and reacting – goes against the modern grain. The modern grain is concerned with me and mine. The egotistical self, again.
In church circles I flinch at the very common ‘my ministry’ as used by clergy. I had always thought it was Christ’s ministry. And what is wrong with work – the work I do (in the church)? Language defines and too often divides what ought not to be divided. Too many things – phrases, privileges – already separate the clergy from the laity in the life of the church. A trend so entrenched hardly anyone notices it.
But the church is small fry in the scheme of things. The tendency to think and act in possessives – me, mine – harms us all and all human activity - indeed, it is harming our irreplaceable planet. Is it fanciful to think that violence in its many forms is often brought to birth by it?