Monday, February 12, 2007

Land Wars

As I was driving around this morning after dropping my kids off I drove by a field with hundred of fig trees piled up ready to be burned. As usual being that I have a soft spot for agriculture, I was sad to see the figs ripped out in order for developers to build more houses. In and around Fresno this is a common sight. Farm land being destroyed and replaced by cookie cutter houses. But this is nothing new for me; I have come to accept although not support the urban sprawl that has become standard in the United States. As I was lamenting this phenomenon I thought how ironic it is that at one point there was nothing there but wild grass and any trees that happened to grow there all by themselves. Before the figs and other trees were planted, and rough grasses plowed into neat rows, there was only natural flora. Then I thought that some people protest the development of so called "wilderness" into farm land. Here is the process: naturalists protest the use of wilderness for agriculture, agriculturalists protest the development of farm land into suburbs, then no doubt someone protests the purchase of those properties (after many years) for city projects or freeway onramps.

In many places of the world even today there is conflict over land. A classic example is Israel and Palestine, but there are others. In our own country there is conflict over tribal lands and who has the "right" to use the land. This issue has been addressed by several philosophers, including John Locke, whose philosophy is a cornerstone of our government and society. He claimed that a man could only possess as much land as he could use. But technology has made it possible to use much more land than a man who lived 300 years ago could. The point is that we are still fighting over land. Unlike in the Middle East however, we don't use guns and bullets to settle disputes, but we still do use a weapon of sorts. It seems to me that we use money to wage war over land now. Farmers have more than whoever controlled it in the first place. Developers have more than farmers. Cities have more than the poor saps who have their land bought up using imminent domain. We are waging war over land, just as we have for thousands of years.

So what is the point? It brings me back to one of the things that I go back to again and again. That man is not really all that advanced. We have not really advanced at our core as much as we would like to think. We still struggle to walk the straight and narrow. Prostitution, murder, pillage, rape, maim, destroy, these are the things we have done since the dawn of time, and we are still doing them. Maybe we are not as savage as we once were, but I think it is debatable. But maybe I am just disturbed over the story of the astronaut who drove halfway across the country to kill her lover's lover. That story sure sounds savage to me. And must I point out that we are still worshiping idols? If you don't think so consider how much media attention Anna Smith got for her untimely death. Oh well, I can complain all day, but all I can control is how I act, and sometimes even that is too much. Have a nice day.

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