Saturday, February 4, 2023

Weeds and Seeds

I was looking at some dates on my wife’s calendar and noticed some of the “holidays” listed. Amongst them:


• International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

• International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers

• International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human rights Violations and the Dignity of Victims. (Governor De Santis, take note!)

• International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

• International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

• International Day in Support of Victims of Torture


We are one sorry-assed species. I can picture any animal learning how to read and browsing through the calendar (the “holidays” go on) thinking, “What is wrong with you people?!!!! Get a clue!!”


Put out by the Human Rights Watch, the calendar listings make sense in that context. But hard to imagine waking up in the morning excited about remembering to think a little harder about genital mutilation, child soldiers, tortured victims and such. The sad, sad truth is that we certainly need to be aware of these atrocities to consider why they happened and why indeed they should stop. But I wonder if most people would react as I do, paralyzed by the enormity of our inhumanity, the long list of ways we make each other suffer, often needlessly. It’s both heart-stopping and mind-boggling.


I found a little phrase in an article I wrote some 15 years ago:


“Pull out the weeds. Water the seeds.”


We indeed need to take a stand against the things that choke our growth. It’s essential to notice the weeds, identify them and do the needed labor of pulling them out. In my own field of education, I’ve talked relentlessly about what doesn’t work and why and what needs changing and more than a few people have commented that my negativity bums them out. 


I get it. Simply being against things is never enough. When we stand for things and do the active work of watering the seeds of our better selves, everyone is refreshed. My soap-box ranting in workshops usually comes after some joyful music-making and always returns to it. And because human beings thrive on happiness and hope and get shut down by fear, it’s a good idea to re-frame things positively without trying to skip too far around the issue. I suggest that the Human Rights folks try renaming some of these days on their next calendar. Things like:


• Day of Women’s Self-Determination

• Day for the Child’s Right to Happiness and Free Play

• Day for Historical Truth-telling

• Day to Celebrate Diverse Sexuality




In short, more seeds than weeds. Let’s get planting.


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