Tonight Milt settled in to watch his usual Sunday night shows, beginning with 60 Minutes. We were waiting for my homemade TV chicken dinner to heat. We had just created these cool little grow pod from two trouble lights hanging over my kitchen stove. We used a bit of chain to hang an aluminum foil cake pan from it. I filled the pans with my baby petunias.
And then the first 60 Minutes program came on, and I knew I’d probably have to leave. Sandy Hook Elementary. A group of parents gathered, each holding a picture of their child who died that day and my heart broke. My heart breaks pretty easily, but I would not call this easy. Their tears, their sorrow—it will never abate. How could it?
My whole life I have worked to strengthen individuals and families. Every part of me knows that a culture that does not place its women and infants/children in the center of all policy is in serious trouble—perhaps on the way to extinction. When things go wrong at the breast because Mom is single, troubled, living in poverty, worried about food and housing, thinking about surviving rather than thriving we are facing generations and generations of social, economic, political, and environmental decline. There is even research that indicates that mothers who are under great stress give birth to babies with an enlarged “animal” brain and smaller frontal lobes. Those babies are born to kick butt and take no hostages. And then we scratch our heads when a 20-year old takes a gun into a school.
If we want to know how a culture is doing—we need only look at its mothers and children.
The question is what do we do about it? Really? Have the problems grown so big that we can only sink further and further into the ditch of current reality? In the past months or year I have met so many wonderful people and all have their hands on one small part of our problems. They are learning, growing, working hard to bring peace to classrooms, begin schools that excite children, starting businesses that help people grow more conscious and aware. But there must be more that we can do.
Today Milt and I went over to Bemidji to the Home/Boat/Sports show and walked through a $58,000 pontoon boat. Really? Our economic health depends upon people being able to buy a monstrosity that they use a few months a year and then park while the snow falls. That is a good use of resources? Or (and I even hate to go here) that we support a government that spends trillions on war while cutting schools and support for young mothers?
I don’t know what the answer is. For me, I am trying to curb a well-programmed American appetite for “stuff” and use my resources more wisely. I have mini greenhouses hanging above my stove to grow more of my own food. I’m thinking about chickens. But all of that is still more about “me” and not about those people who have no shelter, children living in cars, food that sucks and makes us sick. I’m one of the lucky ones.
I can’t stand that I’m not able to do more.
And I love it that I’m still willing to try, to put my creative brain to work, to figure out how to use more of my skills and abilities to create a kinder, gentler world. Let’s keep talking and figuring it out. To simply give up just isn’t an option.
I keep having this crazy idea. The downtown area of my little home town of Cass Lake has become a shadow of what it once was. There are empty lots everywhere where buildings have been knocked down due to age and neglect. I think it would be cool to fill every empty lot with a vegetable garden. When the gardens are producing, people could just come and pick what they want. If they don’t pick it all, we turn it into giant pots of soup and can it and give it away. It would certainly improve the downtown and it would give healthy food to people in my area who still struggle with poverty. What a lot of work—but what fun would that be. Anybody want to help?
I have to keep dreaming. I can’t surround myself with television and newspaper stories that should “ain’t it awful” every minute of every day. It drains the creative spirit and robs our power to change. Tonight, I went off to buy some more peat pots . . .
Dream with me.
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