I AM GRASS: AN ANALOG FOR
YOUR IMMIGRATION AND
—Sioux Nation proverb
WHO AM I?
I am grass, 20% of all vegetation on earth, 10,000 domesticated and wild species. Our cereal sisters sustain your easygoing life, perhaps 20% of your economy. Our family is one of the oldest on earth. True grass, the Poaceae (also called Graminae) the cereals (corn, maize, wheat, etc.), bamboo and varieties you use for lawns. Cousins are the sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes and others. You do not know your history with me.
Anglo-European paranoia over grass started with the name “lawn” from the Middle English word launde, which originally meant an opening in the woods. Owners of English mansions created artificial stretches of lawn, without trees, to provide an open view of approaching hostile attackers. This was your first, and is still, your prevailing environmental and immigration attitude: someone wants to do you harm so you’d better dominate them first.
The prairie grasses were some of the mightiest grasses on your continent, 10 feet high with spectacular waving seed clusters and graceful leaves that towered over you. In the late 1800s you cut them deep with the John Deere moldboard plow, massacred the prairie grasses, turned over the belly of the earth and called yourselves sod busters.
In the Roaring 20s your Department of Agriculture, pushed as they always are to try to make profits for American industry, attempted genocide on grasses, promoted widespread use of herbicides in chemical farming and promoted the rapid mechanization of farms with small tractors and combine harvesters. You stripped the Midwest and what land was too rough to plow; you overgrazed in a decade of environmental shame.
Some farmers in Europe saw the decline immediately. They asked Rudolf Steiner about non-chemical agriculture, and the agricultural world split. Most went the chemical-industrial path with its mono-culture economic models, hybrid seed and scientific management. Others went the qualitative and environmentally concerned path to Bio-Dynamics, and developed organics as we know it today.
The payback for foolishness was quick. In the U.S. the 30s was a dust bowl with gigantic black blizzards blowing topsoil hundreds of miles. It devastated America’s heartland. Farms were lost. Lives ruined. Suicides were common. And why? What was learned as the result of destroying part of nature’s fabric, the grasses? By the 1940s former Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace lamented the tragedy as only a bureaucrat could and waxed eloquent about “the strength and quiet of grass.” Your economy was only saved only by a military industrial complex which caused more deaths in WWII.
By the 50s no lessons were learned. All this was forgotten. You never embraced grass but assigned grass to sports fields and tract houses and indiscriminately sprayed the roadsides. Your militaristic spirit led to spraying DDT from airplanes, which resulted in widespread environmental damage and a Silent Spring.
And still it continues today through your agro-chemical industrial world economic domination, forcing a so-called green revolution on poorer countries that has caused environmental degradation, farm failure and farmer suicides as massive as those of the 30s in the U.S.
And consumers have been silenced at home and told GMOs are “the same as other plants.” Sure. So how is it detectable in breast milk? What will it do to children? And now global warming. Isn’t there something about carbon uptake from grasses you haven’t heard about? Bamboo is grass. “The wind over the buffalo grass.”
WHY AM I HERE?
It was St. John the Baptist who said that he was come to bring a new way of thinking. I too am here to change your thinking about grass and immigrants. You can take a medicine, St. John’s Grass (also known as St. John’s Wort), to change your thinking, as it is commonly used for depression. I bring you new views of grass from other peoples.
The first view you have is your historical one in which my huge and historical family and species have been killed, dominated and imprisoned, an analog for the U.S. approach to native peoples and immigrants: You also define them by their economic use and marginalize them.
The second view of grass is that of the Aztecs. They honored my family and designated grass a goddess. “The 12th Day of the Aztec tonalpohualli calendar is Malinalli (Grass) and is governed by the god Patecatl, the Lord of the Land of Medicines, a deity of healing and fertility. This day signifies tenacity, rejuvenation, that which cannot be uprooted forever. Malinalli is a day for persevering against all odds and for creating alliances that will survive the test of time. It is a good day for those who are suppressed, a bad day for their suppressors.”2
The third view is that of the Far East, where bamboo is a food, home building supply, medicine, artistic material and religious artifact. So pervasive is bamboo that the Eastern peoples live in and have settled their lives with grass. You could have done the same because following WWII, the world’s preeminent bamboo agricultural research and development center was in the U.S. That has all disappeared because of competitive pressures for crop subsidies.
So here you have the situation: one people sees grass, the environment and immigrants as something that should be feared and controlled via economics. Another people sees grass, the environment and immigrants as having spiritual/cultural values different from theirs but is wise and sees that those values may be needed in order to change and to survive; values like tenacity and rejuvenation, or grit, for example. A third people integrates itself into the being of grass, the environment and immigrants, and becomes a melting pot. Each of these three were appropriate historically but are now one-sided in their own way. They must be integrated.
WHAT DO I WANT?
I want to show you a final picture of the difference between many peoples’ view of technology and the reality of nature in which grass plays a significant role. One of the Hiroshima Maidens said that she was told that grass would never grow at ground zero in that city after the nuclear blast. Day by day she painfully walked with all her injuries to ground zero. She said that when she saw a blade of grass she knew that grass represented a force of healing in the earth that was stronger than the man-made technology of death.
You must know your history. Grass does. Grass has always grown over and covered the horrors of man’s battlefields: Little Big Horn, Gettysburg, Hiroshima, and all the rest. And we will grow over your remains if your culture is not sustainable. We know the world’s history. And we want to work with you to change your future. Come. Speak to me. Have hope. You know where to find me. After all, don’t you say, “The grass is always greener”?
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