Saturday, October 12, 2013

Charlie and Anton

“But I live here,” said Charlie.

He went on, "By that, I mean the land provides my food and shelter. It provided for my family before I was born and will provide for my family after I am gone. How can anyone own the land? I am not familiar with the concept.”

“I will buy it from you,” replied Anton. “If you don’t sell it to me then I will take it from you. You cannot stop that. It is inevitable.”

“But it is not mine to sell. I cannot sell what I do not possess. The land has no owner. You look at the land as a commodity that you buy and sell and I cannot understand this. I have picked some apples that I will give you in return for the shirt that you have in your hand. I think that is a fair trade.”

Anton pressed on, “If no one owns the land then I will take it and call it my own. I can cultivate it and grow apple trees. I will have my own apples.”

“That may be true,” replied Charlie “but it is the land that has provided you those apples by allowing the apple tree to grow in the first place. The apples have grown not just from the soil, but also from the clouds that bring the rain, the wind that blows through the branches, the sun that shines from above. Do you plan to own these too?”

“You miss the point,” said Anton wearily. “If I own the land then those are my apple trees that lie on my land. I can eat the apples without having to first find the tree. And I don’t have to fight anyone for the apples. I could even trade apples for other goods that I need. I can trade eight apples for a shirt, twenty apples for a goat. I can even pen my goat on my land and I will have milk and meat. I might have many goats and I will become wealthy.”

“So you plan to tame the land and make it do your bidding?” asked Charlie.

“Yes,” replied Anton.

Charlie quietly pondered the enormity of the concept. The land might not like that. It could join with the wind and sky and wreak vengeance against Man’s ownership.

“I might have to redirect some water from the river and place a fence around my goats so they don’t run away,” Anton continued as if reading Charlie’s thoughts. “The land will yield to my endeavours.”

Charlie remained quiet. The land might yield but it would not always be a slave to Man. It couldn’t be tamed by something as simple and self-serving as Man. But what if it could not rid the enslavement of Man? It may become exhausted like an animal with an infestation from a parasite.

What is the value of an apple? The answer seemed simple: it was the appeasement of hunger. Now it seemed that there could be more to it than that.

Sunday, October 6, 2013