The National Post published a short piece about a new alleged “enemy” of some children, according to one concerned mother: the oak tree! Surprised? Thank you, we’ll march together from here on then.

The Ontario mother whose child has severe nut allergies is asking the school to remove a bunch of oak trees from the playground because the sapling droppings may cause her child to have an anaphylactic shock should she play nearby and come in contact with the very thing. Shocked? I hope, because it is absurd that the issue made it this far. But like with many things that happen, this one must’ve happened for a reason. Hopefully not a wasted one by the time today’s news are all classified and everybody moves on. If you want my take on it, it is an invitation to act.

An allergy is a serious thing, there is no two ways about it. My own son is allergic to cats: The mere presence of a cat or us visiting a house with cats causes him itchiness all over the upper body, a runny nose and, shortly after these somewhat innocuous symptoms, full-blown asthma. It’s not pretty and potentially life-threatening. Potentially. There are cats everywhere though, and, what can we do? The idea of eradicating some of them – I know, chuckle away – it’s so preposterous it does not perhaps deserve even a half-chuckle. That’s not where the problem lies. Same with the oak trees. Aside from the fact that I am particularly fond of oak trees – their sturdiness and ability to withstand the test of time is beyond impressive – the wrongness of shooting the messenger is clearly understated.

Living in fear of oak trees or cats or any other naturally occurring living things and their droppings will simply not do. Living in fear in general, is no way to live. Yet we have come to fear diseases and germs to such degree that we act rather irrationally when a problem arises. Not addressing the problem though. There’s an increasing number of people accusing food allergies and environmental sensitivities. While some could be solely fear-based (according to statistics), many are real and yes, dumbfounding. Why do they happen? Perhaps it is time to look at our lifestyle habits. The things we eat, the air we breathe, the stuff we choose to put on our bodies (think cosmetics and clothes).

What do we allow for and why? We allow food to be grown with as many pesticides and fertilizers as needed (when I say needed I am sarcastically referring to the unnatural “need” to have everything cheap, no blemishes, and readily available, no matter the season). All of this brings a huge number and also amount of chemicals (some of which possible carcinogens) very close to our bodies straight into our bodies. To think that it would not affect the intricate workings of our cells would be irrational and slightly immature. They do, yet we have barely scratched the surface, knowledge wise, or so we think. I believe though that there’s enough knowledge to make us act, yet action is still lacking for the most part.

We allow for genetically modified foods to be presented to us as good options. Why not, you’ll say, aren’t most of the crops these days genetically improved (for a lack of a better term) anyway because that’s what survival of the fittest is after all. You select the sturdiest plant and improve it further so you’ll get a good solid crop at the end of the season. Right? Precisely, except that Nature still had its say in it. Not so with genetically-modified foods. We’re playing God and some of us know it. Yet we don’t know what the consequences are. There are studies on rats that make GM food consumption look grim and unappetizing. For humans, animals alike. The environment is also affected. Sadly though, crops such as corn, soy, canola, wheat, and rice, to name a few still find their way to your dinner table. You would not know who’s who though because there is no labeling. And there’s no fear of not having them labeled either, which to me is frightening.

So you see, oak trees are not the problem. It’s us, our lifestyle and our willingness to put our health, our children’s health and the state of our environment on the line just so we can have everything cheap, abundant and readily available. To live within one’s means is a concept we have yet to master. It should not be out of fear, but drawn from a deeper understanding of how things work…

The oak trees will most likely stay. I hope we will dig deeper though into the whole issue of why do we have to come to the blaming of trees and rely on taking them down to seemingly eliminate possible threats.

The price of not acting is always higher than one expects but we end up paying it anyway. In increments, that is, so it doesn’t feel that high. It is. With interest.

About time we stand by the old oak tree and rethink our choices.