An Implement of Destruction
by Balabhadra Dasa and Chaya Devi Dasi
Next come the smelting plants, where the ores are broken loose and cooked down. Now we’re talking big industry—huge factories, more hellish work. And we’re getting into large-scale pollution.
From the smelting plants we go to the factory where the parts of the tractor are stamped out. Then another factory, where the tractor is put together. Still more hellish working conditions, still more pollution.
Now the tractor is finally assembled and sitting in the parking lot—without tires. Where do we get the materials for the tires? People used to go to tropical countries and pay workers a few cents to cut rubber trees and bleed them for latex. These days we have steel-belted radials, made from synthetics derived from petroleum.
Speaking of petroleum, now that we have our tractor sitting on its tires in the parking lot, what does it run on? You can’t put grass and oats in that tank. You need petroleum, which you might have to fight for. To prove it’s yours, you may have to send troops to the Middle East to kill men, women, and children. You might have to sacrifice your son or even your daughter. And if you win, when the man with the Exxon Valdez comes to ship your oil across the ocean he may spill half of it into the sea.
The oil that’s left goes to the refinery. If you’ve ever driven through a refinery town, you know the air smells like a skunk, and the water is so bad that even a skunk would think twice before drinking it.
But now our farmer has his tractor, his steel-belted radials, and his petrol. He fires up the engine and thinks, “With this tractor I can do the work of fifty oxen.” He looks at his oxen and says, “I don’t need you anymore. I’ve got my tractor. I’ve got my petroleum. You can go to the slaughterhouse.” When you start killing bulls, you’re destined to receive very negative karmic reactions.
Some of the karmic reaction begins right away. For a start, now you’ve got hapless people working in slaughterhouses, in jobs the U.S. government calls more dangerous and demoralizing than those in factories and mines.
But Mr. Agribusiness doesn’t think about that. He thinks, “I don’t have to feed those oxen anymore. That profit goes into my pocket.” At the cost of their lives.
Then he looks at his teamsters, who used to work those oxen—people who worked in the mode of goodness in the fields, growing grains and vegetables. He says, “I’ve already killed my oxen. I’ve got my tractor—I’ve got no work for you. You’re unemployed. Why don’t you go work in the factory and make more machines? Or go on welfare.”
Then he takes the tractor out to plow his field. Its heavy tires compact the earth, so the roots of his hybrid plants have trouble growing. He no longer has manure to nourish the soil, so he pours on commercial fertilizer, made with huge inputs of natural gas. Because the crops eventually deplete the organic things in the soil that hold moisture, his soil easily washes away into the stream. The weak soil that’s left grows weak plants—easy prey for weeds, bugs, and disease. So the farmer brings out his arsenal of pesticides and herbicides. These also wash downstream.
So that’s the modern tractor. Does it fit with the values that groups like the Greens want to promote? Not at all. Instead, the tractor plows up the environment, spreads centralization and exploitation, and crushes spiritual life.
What’s the alternative? When a cow gives birth, about half the time the calf is a bull. These bulls are Krishna’s tractors, produced in the “factory” of the mother’s womb. This factory doesn’t pollute or create hellish working conditions. And it operates by the laws of nature, which Krishna has arranged.
Krishna’s tractor can grow its own fuel—oats and grasses. And with this tractor, even the wastes are useful. Cow manure can be processed to yield methane, a clean-burning fuel. The residue can go into the ground as a first-class fertilizer and soil-builder. No need for by-products from the slaughterhouse to build organic content.
What about working conditions? The relationship between the farmer and the oxen is based on love and trust. When the oxen see the farmer, they expect to be patted and stroked under the neck. In return they like to work, and they work well with an experienced farmer. It’s the most satisfying kind of labor anyone could ask for.
When we use Krishna’s tractor there’s no pollution. And no violence. The farmer works side by side with the bull to grow the best natural foods. This kind of work—inspired by Krishna consciousness—gives the right ground to stand on for any group that wants a greener world.