"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
The Great Violet Massacre
Ok, I'm a sap. My lawn in the spring and fall is a mass of violets; white ones, purple ones, white-and-purple ones too ' and forget-me-nots, dandelions, etc. I don't care much for manicured lawns (especially when I'm the manicurist) but for the sake of neighborly relations, today I mowed my lawn. Massacred hundreds, thousands of violets . . . I feel like a murderer. All those sweet little trusting faces smiling at me as I heartlessly mowed them down.
It was traumatic to do it. If I could figure out a way to cover my lawn with violets and get along with my neighbors too, I would. Sometimes I'll pick as many as I can before mowing, but there are so many of them, more every year. They forgive me and come back again and again. Sometimes I transplant them so they're out of harm's way, but they don't want to stay where I plant them. Plants are little anarchists for the most part 'although some don't seem to mind being cultivated, and others tolerate a great deal of manipulation. In general, plants don't thrive if they're not obedient to their nature, and even without legs they'll seek out the right environment. They require governing to the same extent that some superior power has decided they need to be controlled or pruned.
Now I will sound ridiculous to lots of people, who will think I'm off my rocker (even though I don't own one yet) to grieve over a bunch of violets. It surprises me to learn how many people think of pets only as animals, when for many people (like me) they're much like children. Sometimes people are horrified to think that a cat, dog, rabbit or other creature could be compared to a child, but that's the sort of relationship that most people have with pets they love. It's a positive psycho-economic indicator in my book when somebody loves animals, but that can inspire extraordinarily irrational behavior when common sense declines against runaway love-of-animal instincts.
As I fought back the urge to turn my lawnmower into the Violet Protection Society and deal with the neighbors when they got upset enough, my thoughts went back and forth over the same ground ' something about lawn-mowing encourages that. I reflected on the irony of the fact that many people who would consider me crazy for feeling like a mass murderer ' simply because I mowed my lawn ' might see nothing objectionable in dropping cluster bombs on Iraq or Afghanistan. People who would shudder at the idea that a pet could possibly be 'like a child' might also shrug off the deaths of Iraqi children as 'collateral damage.' Who's really crazy here? Sorry, I don't think it's me.
I love trees, too ' my favorite is a Japanese maple, bought years ago at a hardware store for $1.99. It was a tiny twig, but I planted it and miraculously, it grew ' it's as tall as I am now. I don't hug it because it's way too small for that, even if I didn't want to get the neighbors gossiping. No doubt they consider me a little 'off' already, and I don't need to further their suspicions with public displays of affection toward a tree. Private property it may be, but that private, alas, it is not.
Perhaps it's due to the declining economy, but recently a sad sight has become all too common. I often see trees with all of their limbs lopped off; just a grotesque, pitiful, limbless trunk left, presumably to rot for easier removal when money isn't so tight. It's truly a terrible thing to behold, especially when it was a healthy tree that just got in the way of the telephone lines or grew too close to the road. Trees like these are a poignant symbol for me of humans who have lost consciousness of their human potential.
I believe it was Marcus Aurelius who said, 'Never throw away your legs to stand upon crutches.' Reliance on external government does something much like that; it amputates human potential and grafts on prosthetic devices as replacements. We surrender capacity to use our judgment to government courts, and justice becomes subservient to whatever political agenda is currently in vogue ' for example, the 'war on drugs.' Never mind the fact that prohibition itself is the best incentive for potent and concentrated drugs to flood the market, or that due to a lack of consumer-oriented controls on the market, drugs tend to be more dangerous. If it's a crime to sell the consumer a good product, selling a bad one isn't much worse ' and when consuming a substance is illegal to begin with, it's hard to complain about quality. Let the buyer beware, and thank do-goodness while he's at it.
I digress . . . back to the trees. One doesn't have to be a 'tree hugging liberal' to sense the blighted existence of a tree which has been relieved of all its branches. What's left of it, but the trunk and the roots? Roots are vital (thus the need to strike at them sometimes) but they exist as the yin to the yang of the branches. The human equivalent would be a pair of legs marching around with no arms, eyes, heart, brain, mouth, or ears. If this sounds eerily reminiscent of something, perhaps it's time for me to rest my case. Pardon me while I go transplant violets.