Yesterday, two courageous men died, and a third was injured defending two young girls against a hate crime. It’s today’s headline. It probably will only be a blip by tomorrow, and gone by the end of the week except for those involved. How have we gotten here? I think we keep planting seeds without considering the harvest.
Yesterday, while tragedy was occurring in Portland, I was in the garden. I had taken time to disconnect with technology and I was marinating in the quiet sounds of a happy garden. I had a mulch pile and a mission.
I’m a lazy gardener, so I took some of the black-eyed peas from a generous 2016 and I threw them around in different beds that I was going to mulch, and randomly around the yard. I stopped to harvest some of the okra that I had sown the same way a couple months back, because before I knew it, I had quite a harvest of okra going.
Later in the hot, steamy South Florida summer the same will happen with black-eyed peas. I’ll be enjoying a harvest I barely remember planting. I know what I will harvest because I know what I planted. I’ll also be harvesting some things that I didn’t plant- seeds that fell onto the fertile ground from birds, or peanuts planted by the fat squirrels too lazy or forgetful to dig them back up. These seeds will grow because the soil they land in is ready for them.
I’m always finding little fruit trees popping up because of my habit of spitting out the seeds while munching in the garden. I wonder what hate speak we might be spitting out that is landing on fertile ground and growing into things we can’t imagine and are appalled by.
We all do it. We all have to stop doing it. I imagine if we could have put the men who died and the young women they died to protect in a room together they all would have disagreed about some things. They might have come from very different political and religious world views. There might have even been a heated debate about some of the trigger issues of our day. It is unlikely, however, that violence would have ensued. Most of us don’t devolve to physical violence, even when our closely held beliefs are challenged.
Mental illness is on the rise in the world, and so is addiction. The opposite of addiction is connection. I’m not qualified to speak on mental illness and it is a complex issue but I do have a couple of observations. There always has been a portion of the population looking to belong to something. Cults and terrorist organizations arise because of people’s willingness to follow due to a desperate need to belong to something. People are more isolated and disconnected from the natural world and spend more time connected to tech and almost none connected to nature.
People who are able to connect with nature and spend time in nature seem to be more balanced. We know that microbes in the soil affect our mental health. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/how-to-get-high-on-soil/251935/ Experientially, I can attest that nature makes me happier, healthier, calmer and more balanced.
Social media has created a world where we can scatter seeds everywhere, and never directly experience the harvest. We can choose to plant seeds differently. We can disagree without using the language of violence. We can take a moment to think about where our words might be landing and encouraging violence in others. This is for all of us. It’s not them, it’s you.
So, the next time you get on social media and want to be outraged and angry, please think about it. You’re throwing seeds and manure around with your words and posts and they will grow into something. Not all of them will trigger violence in a person, but even one is too many.
Imagine that you are face to face with the person you’re disagreeing with and that there is a very impressionable small child in the room. Would you say it the same way to someone in person? Would you try to find a more peaceful interaction if a child was in the room?
We can do this. It starts with understanding that our future depends on what we plant today.
If you want to find people who hang out in gardens, food forests and nature, go to www.growsoc.com . You can join for free and find people to hang out with in the garden. We don’t all agree politically, religiously or even on how to grow a garden, but we all know that you reap what you sow and it’s hard to stay angry in the garden.