Planting Flowers

Jim Roberts
September, 7, 2011 -

Honestly, I am exhausted by the vitriol, hostile and negative climate which has swept over the American political process. It reminds me of two toddlers fighting over a toy; the back and forth game of “it’s mine,” “no, it’s mine,” eventually resulting in one or both parties having a major temper tantrum and someone getting hurt. It’s expected for kids to behave this way, but it’s disgusting for adults to and downright inexcusable for our “leaders” to behave as such. It is distressfully amazing how self-centered, narcissistic, self-righteous and immature we have become as a culture. I wonder if civility is now a lost character attribute.

For personal sanity and peace of mind, I am drawn like a bee to a flower to one of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes, “All my life, I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.” I have certainly pondered these words over time, and no time is better than now for their rumination.

Let me paraphrases this–we have a choice to make our minds a bed of weeds, prickly burrs and annoying vegetation; or we can make them a beautiful, well-kept garden. It’s like the proverb,“that which possesses a man’s mind, controls his conduct.” Judging by what we now predominantly see and hear, I think the weeds and thistles have completely taken over.

The profoundness of President Lincoln’s words is that they connote self-discipline and a conscientious effort. Having a healthy mind takes work, discipline and commitment. By contrast, our cultural slothfulness has manifested itself through the worst of human behavior becoming the normative order. People have the belief that it is their right to be rude, bombastic and have everything their way! How wrong they are.

Oh, how I love these words, “...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If only I could live up to them! Think what a beautiful bouquet our minds would become, and what a nicer society we would have if we all followed Mr. Lincoln’s example. What a world we could become if instead of jumping to criticize, we could commit to complement? Or instead of finding fault and blaming, we would work towards finding solutions and a mutually agreeable path? Or if instead of polarization and negativity, we would have pluralization and be overwhelmed with optimism? What a world indeed.

It may not ever be reality, but it is refreshing to ponder. Maybe we can at least commit to begin picking thistles and planting flowers!