Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Poisonous Tree

There once was a tree that bore poisonous fruit. A young girl walking through the orchard ate one of its delicious berries and died.  The farmers in the village got together and decided to cut off the branch that had borne the poisoned fruit.

But a month later an old man died, he said, from fruit plucked from the tree.  Again, the village farmers met. “He was old and sick anyways,” said some.  But others answered that his infirmities were not to blame.  After much debate, the farmers decided to cut off the offending branch.

A month further on, the farmers began to discover dead squirrels and birds in the vicinity of the tree.  It seemed they had all eaten the tree’s poisoned fruits.  The villagers met again but could not decide which branch to cut or how many.  As they wrangled on, a young boy stood up and said: “The tree is poisoned; why don’t you cut it down and be done with it?”

But others replied that the tree was too fruitful to be cut down.  It was the largest tree in the orchard, it produced a plentiful harvest and, what’s more, provided copious nesting places for birds.  It had been there since the village was founded.  “All that may be true,” said the boy, “but it is poisoning all who eat of it, and you will all die.”

So the farmers assembled and cut the tree down.  They pulled out its stump and extirpated its roots.  They cleansed the surrounding soil and in the fresh sod they planted a young sappling which in time grew even larger than the old tree and yielded plentiful, wholesome fruit.


Every day my mail box is filled with causes.  A friend forwards a petition to prevent some proposed bill.  An organization asks for money to save a forest. The non-mainstream news if filled with outrages: police brutality, denial of health care, environmental destruction, denial of justice, unemployment, homelessness, educational debt, cut backs to pensions, malnutrition, exploitation of women and child slavery, corporate graft, political corruption and more corporate graft.  It is simply overwhelming.  And being overwhelming, the attempt to oppose and reform each of these evils becomes exhausting and ends in futility and despair.

The world is awash in poisoned fruit. What is the root of this evil?  The system which prevails is grounded in the private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit. The only logical conclusion is that this tree must be  removed, root and branch, and replaced with its antidote: the collective control of the means of production and the generation of goods or services in accord with sustainable need. 

©Woodchip Gazette, 2012.