Fig Tree & Vineyard

Dearest Rachel –

I know, I know; the title sounds like some cheerful little English pub: “Don’t wait up for me, luv, I’m off to the Figtree & Vineyard for a couple pints and a round a’darts with me mates. Be home when I’ve ’ad enough.” Not the sort of thing you’d ever expect – or want – to hear from me.

Obviously, that’s not the subject of this letter. As it is, the only member of our family who is likely to see an English pub anytime soon (and even if she were to, it would be decidedly out of character for her) is our niece, who is just leaving to study English literature over there for the next six weeks.

Although, for what it’s worth, Jenn put together a lovely spread last night as a send-off dinner for her daughter, entirely composed of British foods (most of which were obtained online, to be sure – let the experts prepare them, and pop them in the oven when company comes over). You know you’ve heard me say it, but it does bear repeating, that English cuisine is better than its reputation would suggest. As long as you like beef and beef flavour, the stuff is actually quite tasty.

Not to mention, filling. I don’t think the family managed to finish a single one of the dishes Jenn served, and we still could barely walk away from the table as much as roll. Well done, sis.

It does occur to me that the Brits would have absolutely horrified the natives when they made to occupy India. Good thing that John Bull and company took a quick liking to curry and what have you, or the Sepoy Rebellion would have happened a lot sooner than it did.

Then again, the fact that it happened at all just goes to show that the ruling class never learns…

Which leads me to the real topic of my letter, albeit one that, once again, has very little to do with you, since it pertains to earthly matters, and politics, and yes, the ruling class, after a fashion. You see, barely two weeks ago, the World Economic Forum adjourned, after proposing a number of things that each of us as ordinary humans ought to do in order to make the world a better place. There will soon be ways in which we can track our own carbon footprint, technology to create meat-like substances through 3D printing, and even the opportunity to consume various insects for our protein in lieu of the various meats we currently devour, the care and preparation of which are evidently ruining the planet. A motto of theirs, although rarely spoken directly by these would-be elites (but having spoken it once is more than enough to strike fear into anyone listening), is that we “will own nothing, and be happy” about it.

Now, the fig tree and the vineyard are ancient signs of peace and prosperity. Various Old Testament prophets reference the combination; Isaiah (36:16, although this was coming from the Assyrian field commander, offering terms of surrender that Isaiah instructed Hezekiah and his advisors not to take), Micah (4:4) and Zechariah (3:10). It is a situation in which basic needs are met (the tree providing food and shelter, the vineyard drink and merriment), and the fact that one has the time to tend them suggests a time of peace as well.

So, why does this come to mind? Well, in each of these particular verses, the emphasis is on the fact that everyone is able to enjoy their own tree and grapevine. Sure, that means each individual has the responsibility to tend it, but they also get to enjoy the various benefits of these plants. Call it ‘the Israeli dream,’ an ancient counterpart to the vaunted ‘American dream’ of home ownership. This, however, seems to be rather anathema to those who would like to make the rules for the world to follow.

Now, from a big-picture perspective, there’s nothing outright wrong about the idea that we ‘own nothing.’ You know better than those of us still here that, eventually, we will own none of it; we bring nothing into the world, and cannot take anything with us when we leave it. It’s almost a noble sentiment to bear in mind. Certainly, there have been cultures that understood and embraced this concept, such as the various First Nations of the Americas, among others; the idea of ‘ownership’ was a concept that had to be brought over from Europe to them.

And that’s where this gets messy, as these are a bunch of old-money Europeans telling the rest of humanity to enjoy not owning stuff. Yes, the folks that exported the very concept of private property to the Americas centuries ago are now telling the world’s citizens to dispense with it. What’s more annoying is the fact that the only reason they consider themselves qualified to do so is that they own so much stuff themselves – these people holding this conference weren’t elected to any positions to speak of (although certain guests and invitees are in fact government officials, the ones running the show are simply wealthy people). They’re telling us we’re not permitted to own and enjoy things, even as they do just that. They’re supposedly worried about our individual carbon footprint, even as they fly in private jets to their little convention in the Alps (and exempt said jets from a planned climate tax proposal). Several of them are buying farmland even as they claim crops will not sustain the population, while others buy oceanfront property while bleating about how those same oceans will swallow the shores. Somehow, I don’t think they’re as worried as they pretend to be for the cameras. I’d even be willing to bet that they’re no more likely to eat bugs for sustenance than I am.

So, for whatever reason, we’re not allowed peace and prosperity, because these folks are telling us we shouldn’t have it. Why, I don’t know; it’s not as if prosperity is a zero-sum game. But here we are, dealing with people who expect to be our landlords, rather than letting us enjoy ‘our’ fig tree and vineyard, if only for the few decades the Lord (rather than these would-be rulers) allow us to walk upon the surface of this earth.

So to sum up, these people:

  • Only claim authority by dint of their own vast amount of possessions,
  • Insist that the rest of humanity give up theirs, in order to ‘save the planet,’
  • All while they make no moves to divest themselves of their own holdings; after all, someone’s got to give the orders around here, and it might as well be them, since they’ve proven their own superiority by having amassed so much wealth (and apparently conned everybody out of theirs)

Yeah. Hard pass.

After all, what right have they to hand down these decisions as to who should have and who should have not?

“It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s [Bob Crachit’] child. Oh, God! To hear the insect of the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

The Spirit of Christmas Present to Ebeneezer Scrooge, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

We were quite familiar with that first part of the quote, thanks to our annual viewings of the George C. Scott version of that story. The dialogue that was kept was certainly memorable (and meaningful) enough. And while you had a copy of an old book that contained the original story, I don’t recall having read it personally. This last sentence pronounced by Christmas Present to Scrooge could as easily be pronounced upon Klaus Schwab and his ilk. May we never consider our fellow insects unworthy of the place we may have attained upon the tree. Sooner or later, our carapaces will fall to the forest floor, and become only so much dust for the least of them to trample.

It’s something our so-called betters never learn, it seems.

So let us sit in the shade of ‘our’ fig tree, and enjoy the literal fruits of our own labor. The philosophers and theologians can debate about what we ‘deserve’ as humanity, but any one of us is no less entitled to enjoy them as the next of us, and no self-appointed ‘elite’ ought to have the right to say otherwise.

Anyway, that’s what I woke up thinking about this morning. Hope yours has been more pleasant (what am I saying, of course it’s more pleasant. It’s heaven). Keep an eye on us, honey, and wish us luck – we’ve got a ways to go today, you know.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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