Planting Healing Trees
I threw out my original article for January when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot and critically wounded, and other innocent people were injured and killed in Tucson on Saturday, January 8th.
A few days after the shooting, I spoke to Annie Loyd, a long-time friend of Gabrielle Giffords. She told me, "Gabby is a magnet for love." We must ask ourselves, "how can a 'magnet for love' attract hate?" Is it possible to transform our culture of violence into one that turns hate and fear into love and trust? Can we be peacemakers?
As a life-long teacher I view this as yet another "teachable moment." It is evident that people of all walks of life are processing this senseless act in their own way and trying to comprehend what it tells us about our culture. We are all victims and we are all responsible when such tragedies strike. Even the shooter was a desperate victim of a society that has devolved into "survival of the fittest." Once again the victims take victims and the bullied become bullies. Why were his needs not met and tragedy averted?
Annie Loyd's organization, The Fusion Foundation is responding to this tragedy as an opportunity to heal our state, and to inspire future generations, "creating a society that supports all our children."
They will be coordinating a collective tree planting to create tangible, visible acts of supporting what will be a generational, transformative healing process. They are responding to the call for positive social change, for living in love and kindness. As President Obama said, "We may not be able to stop all the evil in the world; however, we can certainly choose how to treat one another."
The tree planting will take place as Arizona celebrates its Statehood Day on February 14th. (Ironically, Arizona is often referred to as the "Valentine State" because it was admitted to the union on February 14th, 1912!) Initially the plan was to plant trees throughout our state. Now the Fusion Foundation is overwhelmed by a national response from organizatioons such as the National Peace Academy and National Peace Alliance who want to be partners in this initiative.
I have many opportunities to speak to adults and children about gardening as president of Gardens for Humanity. I always stress that when we garden we internalize certain values that make us more caring and responsible. Inherent in the act of planting and nurturing a seed to fruition is a sense of optimism. If one is not optimistic one would never plant a seed and care for it.
The values of gardening are also the values that create a caring and civil society, and they are life-giving. Each individual is a seed to be nourished to his or her potential, whatever that may be. The way we care for the least of us is the measure of our own value. Truisms like these become REAL when we are shocked by senseless and destructive acts caused by our negligence in caring for those who suffer.
What we do now as a culture will impact the future of our collective life and how we think about ourselves. As a culture we progress or fail together depending on how we respond to our lessons. We all suffer or thrive as a result of the environment which we create and in which we live. This applies to our social and natural environments. So as a collective society this tragedy is both our current test and our current opportunity. As President Obama asked in the memorial service last Wednesday for the victims of the shooting, can our society "live up to the expectations of our children?"
For more information about how you or your organization can participate in this healing effort contact:
The Fusion Foundation
"building bridges in communities through arts and culture"