This recent election proved again why “grass roots” are important. More than colorful flyers and 30-second ads can ever do, grass roots is where democracy started, and continues to start each election cycle. The more money being thrown at negative advertising has never been higher, and our political divide between “right and left” drives some to think that violence may be the only way forward. We must fight that urge, for practical reasons and for spiritual ones.
Having taken part in “door to door” get-out-the-vote efforts this year, I can say that grass roots democracy brings people together, organizes us around central (hopefully honest) ideals and unifies us towards laudable goals. In one conversation, a guy working on tree pruning asked me about what campaign I was working on. At first, he bristled when he realized I was on “the other side.” Then we talked about values underneath our different opinions: the value of human life, the value of personal choice and the value of freedom. We parted ways, not necessarily any closer politically, but we both found space in out difference to laugh, to shake hands and to find reason to respect the other.
Perhaps It’s instructive that we use grassroots to describe ways humans organize. Divisive politics is like using a ripper…it goes deep but doesn’t add any nutrients in the process. And, if you look at the soil just under the plow blade, you’ll see compaction. To get crops to grow, you have to add more and more inputs to create a healthy crop Divisive politics is the same way. You keep adding money from outside, but it does little to create unity; instead it creates compacted opinions and compacted hearts.Unhealthy and unsustainable.
Using annual ryegrass as a cover crop, you can see a whole different story. Its deep roots bust through old compacted layers and find a treasure of nutrients and moisture below. And the fine web of roots spreading out from the main stem connect in a network with all kinds of life around it. It unifies rather than divides. It includes rather than separates. It shares and creates opportunities for all kinds of healthy life around it. Fewer outside inputs, it becomes sustainable because it works with nature, not against it.
Let us know what stories, or ideas, you have about creating more grassroots efforts where you live. We’ll use the stories in a subsequent blog post.