Lessons filed between the plant world and the Twitterverse
I have a neighborhood. In that neighborhood, I found a live oak plant growing from an old dead stump at the beginning of the Summer. I also found a strange blight around the base of some of the leaves. I knew it was a problem for the plant. I did nothing because I did nothing. I forgot and thought about what to do and did nothing. I knew one day cedar oil would kill the blight. I forgot about the plant. I walked by the plant maybe another 20 times this Summer while it grew and grew and suffered with the blight. Amid my many forgettings the plant continued to grow and suffer with the blight. I continued to know what to do and did nothing.
One day this Summer I was given a tomato plant free of charge when I took in my aloe plants for diagnoses at the local nursery. Just because I have plants does not mean I always know what to do and when to do it and how to do it. I knew something was wrong with my aloes. I took them to the nursery. My aloes are doing much better today due to heeding the nursery’s good advice. As a result of the visit, I was given an organic tomato plant. The nursery believed that I cared about my plants and would care about this plant.
I planted the tomato plant in my neighbors back yard. She is an elderly single woman who lives alone. The gardener cleared out all of the weeds leaving her backyard garden area with nothing much to look at except dirt and shrubs. She gave welcoming consent to plant the tomato vine there. I planted the vine and left it to God’s caretaking over several weeks.
I checked on the plant periodically. I came back this week to find the plant had dropped a tomato, lost a tomato, grew a foot and had contracted the nasty blight I had recognized from the live oak. I created a cedar oil medicine to kill the blight and added it to a spray bottle. I pruned away dying leaves and treated the tomato plant. I then took the small tomato fruit and presented it to my neighbor as a gift. She accepted the gift.
I asked her if she wanted to look after the plant with some cedar oil because it had contracted a blight. She declined, adding that she was a retired master gardener and that she no longer wanted the responsibility. I replied saying that perhaps it was time to receive fruits from gardens she did not cultivate. She asked me if I wanted to share the tomato with her. I also declined. We traded gracious smiles and ended the conversation on the acknowledgement of a certain relationship to responsibility to community growth and community blight. Each of us were playing a respective role as Earth custodian.
As I had the medicine prepared, I decided to treat the small live oak; which had suffered with the blight all Summer. I hosed the resilient branches with the cedar solution. At that moment, it dawned on me that perhaps if I had cared for this plant the blight would not have spread to my tomato plant. On my walk back, I saw a gigantic Holly plant covered in the blight. Apparently, the blight did not discriminate between plant breeds. I sprayed the blighted tree in patches unsure of what good I might do because the Holly tree had quite a prolific blight affliction. I sprayed the tree and evaluated the difference between a healthy leaf and the blighted ones. It was a matter to consider in context of accountability, labor and the magnitude of a treatment job. I was inadequate to the task, but I also did far more than others.
As I walked back, the words of my boyfriend rang in my skull like a gong, “There’s a point where this stuff does not take care of you. You need to take care of yourself.” Of course, he wasn’t talking about these neighborhood plants. He was talking about my first-responder method of jumping into media activism and other grasping conflicts.
Of course, this week it was the conflagration of the Ferguson drama of excessive force, media manipulation and the arbitrary detention of reporters. The week before that was the transition shader moving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to one of genocidal mania. All the while, the American foreign policy snake is coming full circle to chomp on its own rattler of a return to war in Iraq. I did not watch Jim Foley’s snuff film because it was a snuff film. The deaths of NASCAR drivers, comedians, unarmed black children and journalists seem to float on media streams like some notion understood; all is not okay in the world.
A SIMPLE CONVERSATION
At times in my life, I too have been scared and bullied by incompetent and murderous idiots. I know the American military does not feel normal or safe unless they are nearby. They cannot be sustained without them. To be temporarily frightened from your wits is not a crime. However, if a gun is pointed at you, try to stay in the moment.
It concerns the result of a simple conversation.
“I CAN KILL YOU RIGHT NOW!” says idiot with a gun.
“Yes. Yes, you can, but no one is asking you to do that,” says the smart man with a desire to live.
If the idiot doesn’t really have a plan, you usually remain alive. Don’t dare bait your luck because an angry idiot will shoot you. They just need an instruction. Be nice to the guy with the gun. It’s a way to survive. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t speak.
My government does the work of terrorists for them. Next-gen warthogs demand applause for sitting around in US military combat surplus hand-me-downs, just like the snuff producers at ISIL productions. They both want my fear because they don’t have my interest at heart. If you take the surplus away they will still be what they are. They just won’t present a wrecking ball to the peace and civility of their hometowns.
I’m not a very malleable asset for US militarized interests. I am not terrified by actual terrorists. The terrorists have failed miserably in that department. So there is no sense of interest. I won’t beg to go to war. So instead of conceding to attrition, they want to stoke endless conflicts against the consent of people like me. They threaten to label me, another American, a terrorist for not agreeing with their war inflated wallets and the mass surveillance.
This nation state is in a fragile place of hysterical acceptance. We live in a global totalitarian regime emerging from a cocoon of sleepy “freedom” rhetoric. Extreme statists are happy: someone is in charge, the no’s are absolute, all the decisions are made for them and they are okay with the results so long as they are infantilized by the State. Anarchists are happy because the small window is finally open for them to make their ivory tower point; that all government leads to mass dysfunction or slavery. This happens before they set sail as pirate mercantilists in the black market. Partisans are happy because the chaos will legitmize craven street fights for power in previously rhetorical for-and-against pluralistic conflicts. The angels and demons of global special interests and non-profits are losing their minds because they are sliding straight down the 90-degree angles and can’t pull each other down quick enough. Gangs and the mentally ill are having fun watching it. Normal people, heads up or heads down, still have to go get the groceries, get the kids to bed and pay the bills on time to keep the lights on. It’s all some version of doing what we already do but in a state of world hemorrhaging dysphoria.
I’m someone who is not unlike others who understand when the need for help exceeds both the capacity and the ability to care for the surge of those needs. What it requires is often not what I render. There are plenty of people who don’t have the instincts I do. There are plenty of people who have better instincts than I do, who choose to do nothing. I have also proven I am able to do nothing and be uninvested. Yet, if I do nothing it does not help and the suffering continues. Criticism is survivable. To live with the fact I did nothing when help was needed, is not a life lived well. So I choose to help anyway. Not because of a generic moralistic quell or dogmatic reflexive religious creed; which are both fine as moral motivations to do justice. I help because I prefer the situation bettered and believe I can make it so by taking action.
In such a time, we have to accept one thing at a time, choosing the fights carefully. For instance, the blight was there. It spread from the wind and some misunderstanding of a relationship to responsibility or neglect. Treating the blight took me 20 minutes. It didn’t hurt me. I helped the plants get well with tree medicine. I am okay. In fact, I learned more from plant care than I did from hundreds of hours of media consumption over the same time span. Let’s compare the lessons learned from two productive yields of community involvement.
Here’s what I learned from plant care.
I think about those trees and the growing things. Children and people are like growing things. They continue to grow. They continue to suffer unless you help them and make them better. Get help when you run into problems. Take good advice. If a blight crops up, don’t ignore it. If you know what to do, find some time to make things better. Present the fruit of your doings to elders, whose lives rely on what God grows for them at this point in their lives. They can share what they know if you have time. Take some responsibility on if it won’t kill you. Do something about the blights in your life or they will spread big.
Here’s what I learned from the Twitterverse.
There is confirmation of what I already know. There is false advertising in government packaging. I’m not alone in being a non-consensual constituent to unelected governance. The lights are coming on in all the darkened little houses online. US military presence is not on the scene to protect your Bill of Rights. We are not in agreement about what to do about it. I am only one of many grown from families coerced with militarized thinking and militarized force as “THE ONLY WAY”. US militarization is not the only way to make life worthwhile in America. To assert your interests encourages other’s hearts & minds.
Here are some thoughts of my own.
Be nice to yourself and others. You can help someone see things differently. Sometimes all you need is someone to show you what’s right in front of you as a kindness. We are all in some strange sense exactly where we need to be. Take good care of yourself to be force of responsible good in the world. You can balance the fulcrum so you and others are okay.
It is simple but not easy to balance the fulcrum to “okay”.