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The Village Idiot

Hope and Change

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

Fool Ďem all, fool Ďem all,
Fa la la la, la la la la

(Oct, 2010) The rototiller bucks up out of the garden bed spitting an egg-sized stone from its spinning blades. I always press the stones back into the soil with my foot. Motherís Bones, they feed minerals to the soil as my tiller and weather wears them down. Above the engine noise, I hear a deep, distant rumble and look to the sky. Between the rich, brown, fragrant soil and the deepening blue of the evening sky looms a thunderhead. Beyond it, the darker clouds flash orange and long seconds later the rumble reaches me. Ha! Zeus or some similar god has wrapped itself in cloud and roils across the sky showing off its power and majesty before unleashing a gift of much needed rain.

The light is fading, the sun well over the mountains. "Wanda!" I call to her some yards away, intently focused on pulling weeds before I reach her bed with the tiller. "Itís time." She looks up and for once doesnít argue. She picks up some tools and starts for the van. I follow with the tiller grumbling happily as I return it to its place in the shed. All things are happy when used as they were meant to be. The rain begins and ends within minutes.

Itís too dark to return to work in the garden and the gods arenít finished. They begin a game played across the nearly black sky. We stand in amazed silence as two thunderheads seemingly hurl lightening bolts back and forth. I recall a story a professor told of standing on a shore of Crete, "watching a storm gather between the Homeric wine dark sea and the azure sky." He claimed he felt what a Greek must have felt 5,000 years ago as a similar storm flashed and raged in an otherwise clear sky above a calm sea. Of course a god was there!

In all the spectacular flash and thunder I slowly calmed and considered. My grandfather had worked this ground to feed his family. His sons had followed, though they used modern tools, applied new methods and ideas, but their goals were the same, feed the family. Now there I stood, no need to grow anything as I can walk into a supermarket and buy food day or night. Hunger is not something I fear or fight, not yet. No, I stand on that ground because I never learned what those before me knew. Iím trying to connect with them, to rid myself of some dread ignorance I do fear. That, and the ground grew some damned fine garlic and potatoes this past season. I want more of both next year!

As I thought about those gone before me, and the gods playing above me, I realized I am a currently breathing member of a very long chain of survivors. A line that stretches tens of thousands of years beyond even the ancient Greek watching Zeus, wrapped in cloud, hurl his bolts across the azure sky.

What a pathetic wimp this descendant of Heroes is! Here whines a Descendant of Man, Son of Earth, Child of Chaos hurled into existence to be whatever can be! And I what? Tremble with impotent anger at the machinations of priests and politicians? Worry that my soft life is being jeopardized by evil people bent on crushing my flagging spirit? That those who must dominate will always seek to do so; with lies and fantasies spun from their droppings, woven into sparkling webs to snare the foolish, the lazy, the selfish?

Something is missing from me. Something was not passed along, or I didnít see it as valuable, or it was deliberately withheld, or I was lied to about its necessity! I feel its lack, know I need it, and need to pass it along before even more of us settle into the mewling, contented cud chewing state I see so much of now.

How do I find something I donít even know the name of? Iíve looked, still look, in libraries among the stacks of the wise and not so. I search among the people I meet. I catch glimpses of something, something not quite real, but tantalizingly close. I keep looking, listening, thinking. Is it hope Iím after? I suspect it may be. When I hear the rulers use a word, dangle it before the sheep, Iíve learned they usually mean the opposite. Hope is for the rulers. They hope to stay in power, to confound and befuddle me. To set me against others, pointing out the differences in their skin colors, or accents, or religious beliefs, or geographical locations, or eye color, or sex, so all our energies are spent smashing against nothing because these different are just like me! And those who need to rule remain securely in control.

There is something in the soil that eases my troubled mind. Am I really in contact with the Mother when I feel the soil as I plant seedlings, spuds and bulbs? Is She feeding me as She was said to have given strength to giants and monsters before men learned to write? Is hope transferred with Her touch?

I think so. If I did not find hope as I plant within Her bosom the things I expect to see fruiting months, seasons later, why would I bother? When I plant garlic I know it will spend the winter growing roots. I expect it to shoot up come spring, to grow strong and bulb up as summer nears. I have to set aside my apathy, my disgust and anger, my fears so I can work the soil and sow the crop.

Perhaps it is the self-motivated act of planting a garden that will lead me to what I seek? Is the missing something the ability to stand alone if need be? What would a ruler, seeking dominance, control over me, take from me if it could be stolen? Individually? The ability to survive without a community, or laws, or rulers?

Gods, how our elitist classes must fear the Children of Chaos! Why else do they seek to confine, manipulate, restrict, punish those who create and/or push the limits of knowledge?

Yes, as I stand in the garlic bed I think Iíve found some of what Iíve sought. Hope is in the act of planting, strength is in the Mother, the Earth. Potential is in Father Chaos. Fear is in the heart of the diseased who must be in control. Let them be afraid. Iíll plant the garlic and survive the diseased as my ancestors did for tens of thousands of years before me. Perhaps Iíll even compost a few of the rulersí decaying corpses when the time comes and plant fruit trees over them so they will have been of some use during their sorry existences.

In the meantime, the November election draws near. Hope lies in the chance of making some of the current elect unemployed.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.