Forget the myths, and thank a farmer today

THINKERS: Father Brendan Lee says the idea that farmers are somehow not intelligent is completely without foundation.We know what people claimis the oldest profession in the world. But the actual oldest profession in the world is clearly farming. Unless we came from the primordial soup, crawling out of the ocean. In which case, the oldest profession in the world is fishing.

It’s interesting that most of Jesus’ parables were about either farmers or fisherman. Why? Maybe they’re the only two professions that will last until the end of the world.

If Jesus had told a contemporary parable about thecognitionibus (a chancellor but a specialised chancellor from one of only four offices that exclusively advised an emperor) and the paedagogi (someone who is free now, but at some stage in their past was a slave, who taught a Roman citizen, but didn’t train them in Latinbut rather in the Greek language) who went to see the haruspex (someone trained in divination but only in the inspection of the entrails of animals, and only the entrails of sacrificed animals, in particular, their liver) – I don’t think we would fully appreciate the subtleties.

For better or worse, these occupations didn’t survive into our modern world. But farming did.

You seethese sci-fi movies set in the future, where our only food will be vitamin tablets. But only a pill would believe that nonsense.

We will always need farmers, until the end of the world. Actually, I’m musing the end of the world is when there are no more farmers.

In the beginning, according to the Bible, we were born in a garden because we were always meant to “till the soil”, even before Adam and Eve opted for an early harvest of the forbidden crop that brought a drought on all of us.

Farmers, of course, harvested the food that’s in your belly and the clothes on your back, and perhaps that’s why we feel for their current plight– with possibly one of the worst droughts in 100 years.

Having lived exactly half my life in the city and half in the country, I’d like to dispel the biggest myths I have found among some city slickers: namely, that country farmers are rich and unintelligent.

I know, but try and keep the expletives under your breath.

This misinformed view of farmers being rich is based on farmers’ large amounts of property, large equipment and government assistance. I’d like to leave the government assistance debate for another column.

Some city people don’t realise land is massively cheaper in the country.

You need a lot of land to farm because of theprinciple ofeconomies of scale, and so small farms simply don’t work.

This principle also explains the need for large and expensive farm equipment, which at the same time causes incredible stress for the purchasing farmer who couldn’t afford itbut had no other option.

The second city slickers’ myth is that farmers are unintelligent. Literally nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing.

It was the great inventor Thomas Edison – he was a failed mushroom farmer, by the way – who said: “All progress, all success springs from thinking. Why do so many men never amount to anything? Because they don’t think.”

Stone the crows! I can’t think of many professions which demand someone to think on their feet and be such a jack of all tradesmore than farming.

In almost all professions, including mine, there are “rulebooks”that tellyou exactly what to do and not do for all occasions.

Not so with farming. What do you do when one morning’s frost destroys your entire crop? What happens when a fox breaks the shoelace on the chook shed and kills even your rooster for the fun of it? What do you do when it just won’t rain? Try turning the farm off and on again?

Pray for farmers,because anybody can pray.Even atheists.

Contribute something financially to the farmers. Even the poor can give something. And if you know a farmer,ask them “RUOK?”

Farmers are notorious for saying “she’s right mate!” when she’s not. So you may need to reassure them that you sincerely care about their current plight, and that you sincerely care about them.

Twitter: @frbrendanelee

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