Durham News: Opinion

The birth of blame – George O’Neal

George O’Neal
George O’Neal

It sure is awesome to have someone to blame. I know most of you can feel me on this.

When I feel a shortcoming a coming, the first thing I like to do is fire up the ole blame assigner and turn it loose. Didn’t weed the tomatoes? Not my fault. It was too dry, then too wet, too hot, then too cold. The meteorologist is surely to blame.

Never me; it’s never my fault. On the farm there is never a shortage of things that need a little blame assigned to them.

You can apply that same tomato blame to everything you don’t like about the world. Its really easy; just check the news.

But through all this I think I might have stumbled onto the real problem, where all the blame starts. I might have inadvertently discovered the birthplace of the original scapegoat. Please humor me on a trip back in time.

It was at the dawn of “civilization” that the first group of hunter-gatherers was out in the forest and happened to notice that under their favorite fruit tree a bunch of little fruit trees were growing.

Well, one industrious lady among them might just have taken that sapling and moved it somewhere else. Added a few more saplings here and there and viola! The world’s first orchard was born. When those trees came to fruition this industrious person now had a windfall of fruit, and thus a surplus. That surplus had a value.

Even though the concept of money was a distant one, some sort of placeholder for the intrinsic value of the food had to be established. It had a value because it represented the first time where one person could produce enough food for others to eat, food they would normally have to procure themselves. This was the dawn of agriculture, and the birth of what was most likely the world’s first profession: farming. (It was at least a close second on the list of professions, but I digress.)

From that first farmer was born the first hut builder, then the first full-time spear maker. Growing food was the only job that paved the way for the rise of specialists, or people who could specialize on just one task. Before that, they would have starved. With that act we created money to represent the value that these abstract goods meant to us. One stone axe is worth nine clams with which you can buy two chickens etc. and viola! Capitalism was born.

Now being the smart industrious apes we are someone among us looked out into this newly formed marketplace of goods and thought, “How can I have all that reward stuff without having the work part?” Bam! The world’s first boss was born. Ready the blame cannons.

We now had in our hut village an entire group of people who no longer had to gather any food to survive; they were the ideas class. The ones who first dreamed up taxes, private property, child labor, and trade with neighbors, which eventually led us to trade deals, sweatshops and Pokémon. It was the first bosses who dreamed up the weekend, most likely just to see if we could come in Saturday to do just a “little bit” of work.

From the boss’s perch high above society there was only one step higher on the social ladder to climb. He needed to oversee the entire social order to ensure that no amount of physical work would ever be needed from him again to justify his high place in society. But it would require a serious leap of faith on the parts of the food growers and hut builders and spear makers.

He had to convince the entire village that by making it a career he could lead us to a better place by organizing us into tidy factions. In that one move farming gave the world the worst gift yet. Farming paved the way for the first politician and all the ones that followed.

So what I’m saying is, if you want to get to the root of societal ills, then its time to blame the real cause – blame the farmers. They allowed the Trumps and Clintons to take over our minds. Every day they make it possible for people on CNN to have enough calories to talk about convention outfits and how well the candidates’ children’s speeches were.

Which leads us to the present day.

If you were ready to explode with blameatisms during the last few presidential campaigns, then surely this current one is doing you no favors. So now we can either sit idle for the next three years and 364 days that we aren’t repeating this strange blame game of who got us here and why, or we could see this silly election trap for what it is, set aside some of our blame, and get down to making this the world we want regardless of who happens to be temporarily sitting in the perch of power.

George O’Neal runs Lil’ Farm in Timberlake in Person County. You can reach him in c/o editor@newsobserver.com.