As far back as we look into human history, the idea of competition has allowed us to justify warlike behavior, destructive tendencies and aberrant behavior perpetrated against one another by our ancestors. In my own family tree, I can trace relatives that were sworn enemies of my wife’s ancestors. This puts in perspective ancient falsehoods that still manage to hold on to our collective consciousness. Somehow the idea of lack has defined the human species since the second caveman beat the first over the head for his leg of some other critter. As we have seen repeatedly played out, this position is both illogical and untenable from a civilized perspective. War, the illogical extension of the club, recreates itself, consuming ever larger resources and carving ever-deeper levels of animosity between and amongst it’s champions. For instance, in The United States of America’s recent exploits, millions of people have been killed. Millions of survivors know whose hands were on the triggers, joysticks and buttons of the weapons that stole their livestock, families, children, fathers, teachers and leaders from them. The feelings of hate and anger that spring from these deaths will last for centuries.
I have called for the reorienting of our goals in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Arm each soldier with 1,000 trees. Fruit trees, nut trees, any trees that are native to the region. When they are all planted, and people have been found to care for them who will benefit from their existence, our mission would be complete. Instead of getting shot at and killed, our boys (and girls) would probably receive marriage proposals and offers of every good thing. Bombs and bullets rarely have the ability to create friends, unless they are to be used against someone else. The first thing that the Russians did when they rolled into Afghanistan was to cut down every tree, guaranteeing dependence on their rations. Denying anyone what they need to be healthy, strong and well-cared for always backfires. We surely don’t want to be on the receiving end of multi-generational hatred!
Can “We the People” just be smarter than a bacterium or paramecium for once? If the climate for them is hostile, they either, move away, or wither& die. In their sacrifice they usually make the environment more hospitable for some other species! We are still acting like ignorant fools who believe that, “If we can’t have it, no one can!” It lies within the realm of possibility to change course. The most wealthy among us don’t want change, but the simple fact is that we must change, or we will perish. Our oil addiction has made us into unwelcome guests in many nations. Rattling sabers with the best of them only leads to bloodshed rattling sabers with the worst of them does the exact same thing.
Permaculture allows us to achieve sustainability in relatively short order. Let me relate a story about a friend in Chicago many years ago. My friend was an old hippy. He had heard about the ability of the land to support people but had never seen it in practice, so he was new to the idea. He spent a fair amount of money on seeds for an inner city garden that he planted in a vacant lot near his flat on the Upper East Side.
Life was such a new concept to his lot, that very little grew that first year. He had a few tomatoes, several cukes, some lettuce, mint and a few squash for his trouble. Everything else succumbed to the extremely harsh inner city conditions. In his second year, he got a book that touted the French, Bio-intensive double-dug method. This approach adds compost and “tills” the soil two shovel-fulls deep. The first trench that you dig, along one side of the garden, gets carried across to the other side. He did this diligently. Oddly enough he started where the mint had been the year before. Being a perennial and being scattered across the entire garden as it was transported to the opposite side, he ended up with thousands of rootlets, scattered throughout the vacant lot. Double digging and composting the whole lot, he went about planting a second and more ambitious year’s seed. He got called out of town for about a week and upon his return he found that the most prevalent thing across the whole lot was, you guessed it, mint.
Now, this old hippy was the furthest thing from an old burn out “stoner” that you can imagine. He single-handedly pulled off international art expositions in donated space, created free art programs teaching disadvantaged children both techniques for producing their own art and the capacity to judge whether it was good or not. He took this catastrophe in stride. He bought a small hand scythe and started cutting walking paths to try to get into the garden and salvage the tender sprouts of a dozen or more types of seed that he had intended to grow. He also had the forethought to pocket a handful of sprigs so that he could at least make some tea when he got home.
Long story short, he went to a Gyros shop for lunch and when he got to the counter, the owner’s nostrils were flaring. “What is that smell?” he asked.
After copping to the aroma, my friend lamented that he had a whole field of this mint and that it was threatening to take over his garden. The shop owner said that if he brought him a grocery bag of mint each day, during the growing season, he would feed him all year. “Just one bag,” he said, “for one meal” Of course, me friend had to ask if he could get two meals for two bags, but the owner just smiled and told him to see how well the one meal plan went first. Abundance is the rule, not the exception. If we can find a way to resonate with natures harmonies, even if we do so by mistake, the planet can find ways to sustain us all. Peace, Love, and Understanding with a bit of neighborly compassion thrown in for luck and we have the power to create miracles.