I was in a meeting recently at Westcott House, across the road from my dear Wesley House. As I was sat, in a first floor room, looking out of the window, as is my custom during meetings and lectures, I noticed a large tree in the middle of the college garden. It was probably about 20m from where I was sat and I thought to myself how odd the leaves were. Though, soon I had realised that they weren’t leaves at all, but massive apples. By this time, during a lull in proceedings, I’d stood up from my chair and wondered over to the window. I said “there’s an apple tree”. Olivia, a fellow student replied, “yeah, we’ll go and get some later”. I continued, with surprised exhilaration, “it’s food, and it literally grows on trees!”. Olivia agreed, a few people chuckled and we got on with our meeting.
I made the “grows on trees” comment to illustrate my realisation that the idea of food growing is a really weird concept to me. It was in that moment that I was struck by just how disconnected from the production of my food I am. I became aware that it felt more natural, and I mean felt natural, meant to be, organic, not peculiar, to me, to pick up an apple from a supermarket shelf rather than from the ground underneath an apple tree. In fact, to pick up food from under the tree from which it had grown felt abnormal, unnatural, wrong.
Obviously, I know food grows and some on trees. Well I say I do, I academically know. Like I academically know that people live on the other side of the planet. However, sadly, disturbingly, any real connection to this fact suddenly seems as far from me, from my mind, as having a meaningful friendship with someone who lives in downtown Lanzhou.
So the meeting ended and I wondered downstairs and out onto the grass, Sir Isaac Newton style, only with not quite such cool hair, but with a better beard, to find a freshly fallen apple. I eventually, after surveying several apples as well as also looking up to see if I could easily, I couldn’t, get a fresh one, picked one up with only one, very small, black mark. I then processed (it’s an Anglican college after all), with my apple, into the common room where I had been offered a cup of tea. I Joyfully cut it up, disposing of the black bit, and offered it around. Saying again “it literally grew on a tree” still strangely surprised by such an occurrence.
We wondered if it was a cooking apple; it was massive. Bigger even than a cooking apple, perhaps. However, it was sweet! So the others in the common room and I finished the thing.
Also, by the way, it was free! The tree photosynthesised using free energy from the sun, not from some extortionate, government influencing, monopolising, private energy company, but the sun. To turn free carbon (you’re welcome tree! At least one life form has gained from humanities carbon pollution – sorry about all the toxic waste, mass destruction of rainforests etc.) into fruit! I could have had a second and that would have been free too, and a third! This, also, was a strange concept; that I could sustain myself physically without needing to be involved in an economic transaction.
Isn’t it strange how we, as individuals, as a species, so easily sleepwalk into unnatural ways of being. Then how we let such situations program us to implicitly assume that things have always been this way and so will always be this way.
The arms trade is a blight on all of our lives, but, as the philosophers ‘Dan le Sac’ and ‘Scroobius Pip’ said, “Thou shalt remember that guns, bitches, and bling were never part of the Four Elements, and never will be.”
And so, if I can pick an apple up off the floor and eat it, then it follows that the twisted, unnatural, dehumanising, arms trade can be dismantled. Only to become a distant memory, marking a time when humans had lost their minds.