Creation Requires Destruction
Alan Hahn
Timber Lot

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. – Pablo Picasso

I don’t know the context in which the famous artist provided this statement. However, when you consider this statement in the juxtaposition of our technologically-advanced lifestyle, it is most fitting; yet, I think it’s lost on most consumers.

We live in a peculiar time in history. We are, in many ways, seeing the fruition of earlier visionaries who sought a better way of life for mankind.  From Tesla and Edison, to Ford and Borlaug … all had visions of more convenience, less labor, more productivity, and in the case of Borlaug, nutrition for the under and malnourished around the globe.

Realization of these visions, however, is not always greeted with elation. Rather, the response to our advancements is often one of angst and a longing to return to an idealized version of the past that only exists in our minds, storybooks, and Norman Rockwell paintings.

Long before we were a technologically-driven society, we used muscle power, and we recognized the creation-destruction tradeoff.
If you ask the average person today about their “footprint” on the planet and using natural resources to “create” a better way of life, you may well be greeted with either bewilderment or disdain for using natural resources. 

Destruction, after all, is what the big companies do. We don’t likely consider how the countless products and services that we enjoy might entail a degree of destruction.

Blinded by our Own Success

We are the victim, so to speak, of our own technological advancements. Tearing down, refining and building up defines human history. However, due in large part to how efficient and innovative we have become in the destruction and creation process, we have removed human involvement to such an extent that the process is foreign to most. 

For those working in what can be the gritty and, at least for some, unappealing process of “destruction” so that urban dwellers might enjoy newly “created” lifestyles, you may be on the receiving end of righteous indignation.

The chemistry that gives us our dry-cleaned clothing, refrigerated food, cosmetics, ink cartridges for our printers, life-saving airbags and pharmaceuticals, fiber optics, purified drinking water, and even nutritious food for our fur babies is not appreciated because it is foreign to the large majority of consumers.

Today’s conveniences are nothing short of remarkable. A half-a-generation ago, most of us could not have imagined the products we find on the shelf or available on-line. Have we collectively lost the appreciation for the necessary work (destruction) that allows our lifestyle?  We enjoy, but do we acknowledge, that there is a lot of “destruction” that takes place every day so that the “creation” of our conveniences and new found “needs” can be delivered to our doorstep via digital orders online?

What’s Around the Corner?

Could this disconnect explain why modern agriculture is at times maligned and often misunderstood by some consumers who may lack recognition and appreciation of our privileged lives?  Similar to our removal from the manufacturing process, so too are we removed from the agricultural practices.

I recently read that the average person is six generations removed from farm life.

In 1900, 40 percent of the workforce worked in agriculture. Today, thanks to all that incredibly-well-engineered and technologically-advanced destruction and creation, less than 2 percent of the labor force are in production agriculture.

Today, Americans consume more nutritious food at lower costs than any time in history.  In 1900, it cost more than 40 percent of our income to eat; now it is less than 15 percent. This does not just magically happen. It is the result of agricultural advancements. The same advancements that have reduced work force, increased productivity, increased crop, milk, and meat yields while driving down costs, are creating a generation that cannot recognize (and lack appreciation for) how these creations are possible.

Consumers go to the supermarket, pick what they need off the shelf, pay with an app on their cell phone, and drive home in their hybrid car – all while telling Alexa to adjust the thermostat in their home so it will be the optimal temperature when they arrive.
What’s Around the Corner?

Creation requires destruction...we have witnessed this since the dawn of mankind.  

The question now is who will dictate our future choices with respect to what is “acceptable creation and destruction?” Will it be those with the loudest voice? Those with the most money? Those with the right connections? Those with the best public-relations team? Will those dictating this future consider the subsequent, life-altering consequences that result from these decisions?

The challenge for producers, those involved in the process of creation of all that we have, gets steeper with each advancement that puts the consumer further from the process. This distant consumer needs to be educated so we do not mistakenly destroy the golden goose of technological and agricultural advancement that we enjoy today.

Moreover, the education cannot be all science, statistics, and numbers. This consumer must be engaged on an emotional level that addresses their concerns. Science can win in the legal courts, but rarely in the court of public opinion.


Alan Hahn is an Environmental Professional and Business Development Manager at The Dragun Corporation in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

The opinions stated herein are not necessarily those of GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

Link to full article about destruction and creation:

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