Barking up the wrong tree is quite a cute saying, if one imagines it referring originally to hunting days 200 or so years ago when hunting dogs would chase their prey, which would fool them, pretending to be up the tree while hopping along elsewhere. The common image now of course is, cat safely up a tree, laughing at dog barking below the wrong tree.
Both versions are relevant here and now, in SA at the end of 2019. Have we been fooled, or are those safely up a tree laughing at those of us barking below?
It seems an appropriate image too as we begin a new year which will be incorporating an environmental focus. What lessons can we learn from life and for life for the theme Our World, a Family of Families?
Probably for all families in some ways the year past has been stressful. The way we live our lives is so complex, with so many aspects and variables it would be unusual if everything went smoothly and we found ourselves constantly barking up the right tree.
While spending a couple of days on a KZN South Coast farm I couldn’t help but be conscious of trees, good trees, bad trees, hungry trees and productive trees, trees for Africa as we say. For miles and miles hills that used to be covered with sugar cane are now covered with macadamia nut trees. Farmers have changed to mac nuts that are financially much more lucrative, but only after the initial 8 years or so. So without capital this would be unaffordable for many farmers, especially emerging black farmers.
A question running through my mind then too is what is their contribution to food security in our country as the bulk of these nuts are produced for the export market.
Our president in his New Year Message emphasized again the need to address poverty alleviation. Adequate and nutritious food surely is one of the first requirements and climate change bringing erratic weather patterns, drought, floods and water shortages are important influences. What trees are most beneficial for our food security but not only that? How can varieties of trees selectively planted in suitable environments contribute in the best way to sustaining our environment and our needs?
It is almost correct to say that money does grow on trees. So economists please help to work this one out from the perspective of the common good
And good citizens too, is the common good a factor in our New Year decision-making? Would that be barking up the right tree? If not, we might finally all be barking up the wrong tree, if we’re barking at all.