Machines don’t harvest crops — farmers do

Mar 5, 2018 by

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A tongue-in-cheek parable in the midst of a national debate over gun control:

Every year, an increasing number of grain and other crops fall prey to ruthless decapitation and violent forms of plant destruction where massive numbers of kernels of grain are separated and captured at the will of the farmer.

However, today’s highly efficient machines known as combines (representing a technologically sophisticated ‘combining’ of a reaper with a threshing machine) cannot be seen as the cause of this devastating process. After all, they are only inanimate objects, not in themselves capable of doing either good or harm except at the will of the owner.

And indeed, if combines were outlawed, farmers would no doubt resort to other ways of harvesting their crops, perhaps reverting back to the use of Cyrus McCormick’s grim reaper and to old-fashioned threshing machines.

And if those were no longer available, the use of sharp knives, scythes and threshing floors trodden on by oxen could be another way of accomplishing the same kind of grim results. In fact, over past millennia of history, more reaping and harvesting has been done by those means than by any other.

So let’s not attribute today’s massive and efficient harvest statistics to the creators of any instruments, objects or technologies involved, since logically, no inventions or tools can be seen as having anything to do with what is happening to millions of acres of crops every year.

The credit or blame for this goes much deeper, to the hearts and minds of the farmers themselves.

So there. Since you can’t change human nature, and since no laws can really change people’s behavior, let’s all just resign ourselves to accepting the status quo.

Harvey Yoder is an ordained pastor and member of Family of Hope, a small Virginia Mennonite Conference house church congregation. He blogs at Harvspot, where this first appeared.

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