What the world needs now, more than ever, is some beautiful foliage to remind us of the good things in life, and to give us some much-needed relief from all of the meanness around us.
If news reports from Springfield and Washington D.C. are like sandpaper to your soul, you’re not alone. I believe in staying engaged with my democratic republic by following a variety of responsible news sources, but I also believe that flowers deserve equal time.
You bet. Flower Power, baby. We need it. Not only because it reminds us of those wild days in the late ’60s, when people took to the streets for a course correction, but because flowers are really, really nice. And we need to dwell on nice things, daily, or we’ll become worse grumpypants than we already are.
Can we really stand for America to get any grumpier?
Looking at flowers, planting them, sniffing them, contemplating them, tiptoeing through the tulips, even sending a bouquet to a political foe – all of it’s good for the soul. It helps us to curb the naughty, angsty, in-your-face, name-calling, trash-tweeting tendencies that are running amok these days. Behaviors that our grandmas would not find acceptable.
Why be nicer to each other?
Because if we don’t, our republic will crumble from within. We’re at each others’ throats. The entire Civil War may have been avoided if only people would have had better access to flowers during that long, cold winter in early 1861. Folks were too long on moxy, too short on mercy, too eager to shed their brothers’ blood.
A Chinese proverb states, “When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” (At least I think it’s Chinese. I read it online and it may have been written by a teenaged troll in Macedonia. Who knows.)
What I get out of this proverb is that feeding our souls with things that add to our humanity – flowers, trees, woods, streams, good poetry, music, art, literature, love, prayer, volunteering, pets, friends … is essential to sound mental health, something the world sorely needs. It’s every bit as important as feeding our bodies, no matter what station in life we occupy. Man does not live by TV or talk radio or social media alone.
I dare anyone to stare into the face of a pansy and feel anything but love in their heart. Or to be anything but awestruck when a massive sunflower tilts its head toward the sun. Or to resist smiling at a peony glistening with raindrops.
Yes, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine once told a bunch of farmers who were understandably reluctant to take up arms against the most powerful nation on earth. They fought and bled and died, risking everything for a chance at freedom, not knowing if the risk would pay off.
It did. We’re the privileged beneficiaries. We’re Americans. We’re free. And we all need to put country above party.
Paine, like many of our founders, cautioned that governing ourselves would be really, really difficult.
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one,” he wrote. (I’m confident the bots and trolls didn’t make that one up.)
It’s our country to keep or to lose and I vote for keeping it. This means that, when we fight for what we believe is good, we can’t turn into ugly beasts; ends don’t justify means. Democracy is a process, not a destination.
Hurting each other and acting like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil furthers no one’s cause. We must resist being bitter, vengeful, disrespectful, name-calling jerks, or we’ll hasten the demise of American values that are already circling the drain at top speed.
To vanquish rancor is to make room for the power of love to bloom. And my Bible tells me love always wins out in the end.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
So here’s to civic duty, choosing news sources wisely and daily doses of daisies, roses & violets; and to all things that keep us tethered to inner peace and civility. For me, that includes faith.
Goodness is always present, floating high above the stench of human machinations, and we need only reach up to blanket ourselves in its warmth when we feel the crushing weight of the world.
We can be nice. Be kind. Be brave. We can do the right thing. We can stand up and be counted, without being rude. And in this region, we certainly can find a great garden to pray in. So let’s not neglect our flower power.
“The earth laughs in flowers,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Couldn’t we all use a good laugh about now?