A random single event

Paul Burt takes a break from dagging ewes and contemplates the randomness of existence.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Paul Burt takes a break from dagging ewes and contemplates the randomness of existence.

PROVING THAT MONEY CAN BE A harmful substance with the ever-present danger of an overdose, Elon Musk has named his children X and Y. Not to be outdone, I’ve entitled this column … +ve , –ve & p.i.

It can only be positive and fills me with pride that I know four young couples who have realised a dream and recently entered into farm ownership. They have achieved their goals with varying business structures against huge odds, especially the demon of blanket-planted carbon forestry which has raised hill country land prices way above sensible levels.

“But, think of what it has done for your asset value,” carp the ignorant. Fertile grassland should produce food. I’m more interested in a young farmer’s ability to operate a viable business than the bottom line of a mature farmer’s balance sheets.

It’s a difficult task to sort just one negative from the dozens that our inclusive and transparent leaders have been foisting on us recently. I choose the “Ministerial Inquiry” which is nothing more than a mechanism to spread the blame for incompetence.

Management, which essentially is what a ministers’ job entails, assumes a skill set that maintains and improves the assets, procedures and outcomes associated with that portfolio. It’s a contradiction that after a few years in the job a minister can initiate an inquiry because everything is turning to custard.

What on earth has he/she been doing in the interim?

In a farm business it’s pretty obvious where no maintenance, lack of fertiliser and absent animal health leads you because your job is to employ your resources to not let this happen. How do we allow the incompetent to highlight the obvious and then commission many millions more of our dollars seeking answers to the self-evident. All I ask of the people who spend our tax dollars is some common sense and accountability.

If you are wondering what p.i. stands for, it’s just what I find particularly interesting.

I was in discussion with a religious person who was shocked at my reluctance to accept the existence of a divine being. That person used the following metaphor to illustrate why he believes there is a master plan.

He said our existence and all it comprises is so complex that the likelihood of it occurring without an omnipotent creator was the same as that of a tornado tearing through a scrapyard and leaving a fully functioning 747 aircraft in its wake.

I thought about this for a while and although I continually live in awe of the natural world, there are still too many “buts” for me. Naturally, front and centre for an individual is his or her own existence but have you ever stopped to consider just how random that single event is?

At the moment of your conception there was a two hundred million to one chance that “you” would become an embryo. It was your lucky day as there was only one egg fertilised and “yours” beat the other 199,999,999 swimmers to the party. Put another way, on the night (heaven forbid your parents did it in the light of day) of your conception, if your old man had lingered to put the cap on the tooth paste, the world would not have the individual that is you but another, albeit with 75% of your genes.

If that’s not random enough for you, what were the chances of your mother choosing your father ahead of a possible 200 million other contenders. To push this further, we would not have the present suffering in Ukraine if Vladimir Putin’s father had sunk one more shot of vodka before getting amorous with mother Putin all those years ago.

It’s all weighty stuff and despite this being a short column about farming (and politics when I’m provoked), I’ve unintentionally strayed toward the biggest question of all. Are we operating by divine blueprint or by the laws of nature and the actions of selfish genes. Something to think about when you’re dagging the ewes but don’t spread it around or that crowd in Wellington may start an inquiry.