Although not a gardener, I take great satisfaction in weeding. There is nothing quite like pulling out a weed from it's roots, knowing that you have not only eliminated the unsightly plant, but have prevented that particular growth from reestablishing itself. It's backbreaking work, but the beautiful outcome is well worth the effort. So it is with human challenges, individually and collectively. As a life coach, I know the reason a client seeks coaching is often just a hint of the true underlying challenge. The real work takes place at a deeper level from what appears on the surface. Fear of public speaking is often rooted in fear of being judged. Indecisiveness is often rooted in fear of failure. Staying in a dead end relationship is often rooted in fear of being alone. Together, the client and I work on exposing and eliminating the root, and voila, the challenge dissipates.
Upending collective roots is more difficult and time consuming. As a social and political activist, I know that too many roots are firmly entrenched in hate and selfishness. Struggles against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia are rooted in ignorance and hate. It is distressing that so many people are vehement in their struggle to restrict for others the rights and freedoms they enjoy, including preventing all loving couples to marry and denying affordable health care to all. I know fear of change plays into these "anti" positions, but the outcome is still reprehensible: people choose to retain for themselves what is good and deny the same rights to others.
The question, then, is: How do we uproot this venomous hate and selfishness? If we find that answer, if we yank out the weeds of hostility and ignorance in order to plant more love and beauty, then serenity and equality could prevail. What large scale actions would weed out vitriol and lead to the harmony we seek?
There is no single answer that will unlock the key to peace. The good news is there are millions of people who share this desire to expand rights to all people regardless of where they live, the religion they practice, if any, their pigmentation, or who they love. The bad news is that there are millions of people on the opposite end of this spectrum of caring. These struggles are as old as man (literally, for that is where most power still lies) and I'm realistic enough to know that I will not see the desired world in my lifetime. But I refuse to give up.
As far as we have to go in weeding the giant yard of mankind, I know how far we have come. I remember life before Civil Rights became law. I remember watching from the sidelines as my brothers played sports because there were no comparable teams for girls. I remember when the "H" word, homosexual, was whispered because it was considered shameful. I remember being declined a job explicitly because I was a woman and not having any recourse to appeal the decision.
We have no choice but to keep weeding our yards, ourselves, our country and our world. Change for good has never happened overnight, but it happens. We must continue to dig up the roots of hatred through education and exposure. It is painstaking work, with setbacks galore, but there are no other options. I live a life of many blessings. It's what every human being deserves.