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The Village Idiot

Before You Go to War, Know Your Enemy - Part 4

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(10/2013) DW and I rushed out to the acre, she so quickly after locking the factory she hadnít time to eat a supper. Weíre late, again, getting the garlic planted. $103 worth of bought cloves, 5.5 pounds minus the culls and that much and more of our own seed bulbs. (I canít begin to estimate the value of those bits of living wonder. What price the sweat, pain, anger, despair, hope, education and delight they represent?)

I look up from churning the second 100í row and find DW standing gasping at the end of the first. Sheís raked ground too wet for rototilling as high along the row as she can. I can see the pain sheís in. Are we insane? Well she obviously is because after I take the rake from her to rerake the row to my satisfaction and drag the teeth along the length of it to level it for planting, she starts pulling weeds! The woman is a wonder. (Iíll argue that I donít deserve her loyalty.)

The first row is ready for about 600 bulbs, I begin the second, but DW announces sheís done so I return the tiller to its hole and take one last look at the winter garden yet to be planted. Why in the name of any god I can call upon do we do this each fall?

I plant gardens for the same reason people empty bottles of flavored alcohol down their gullets, snort white powders up their noses, inhale toxin laden smoke, or stick needles filled with blissful death in their veins. To escape, just briefly, the pain of life. To momentarily feel as if weíre in control. As a gardener/wannabe farmer, Iím perhaps more aware of realityís constant smacking me upside the head than those using drugs as a means of escape. Nature is a heartless god. She may let fools defy Her for a lifetime, but She never lets us escape Her rules, we eventually die as She dictates.

So why have I turned from a decade of perfecting a state of drunkenness, with the occasional side trip into the land of the "evil weed" (marijuana), to torturing myself by way of attempting to grow gardens? More importantly to the topic of this column, why are people killing themselves by way of heroin in spite of all the recent deaths and all the information available about how deadly the drug is?

Well, considering weíre forced from a warm, safe womb and plopped into a cold, unknown world where our first reaction is a gasp and a cry of outrage, is it any wonder we spend our lives seeking escape from pain and fear? (This isnít rocket science. Iím hardly the first to write about it.)

A couple generations ago, it was not uncommon to hear prayers being said in public schools. I remember them. What I donít remember, because Iím not old enough, was the teaching of philosophies and their advocates in public schools. I was vaguely aware of the advocates, though not through my formal schooling. Schooling had changed that much from one generation to the next. Philosophies were deemed irrelevant by someone, for some reason.

During my childhood, I was around people who had some understanding of their purpose for being here. Most of them were Roman Catholics, devout if not articulate in their beliefs. Iím guessing they had found a method of dealing with the pain of life and their fear of such. There are many moments when I wish I could join them in the escape, but their masterís teachings have been lost in the religion that grew up among the ignorant, arrogant men who followed him. Iím left to seek freedom elsewhere. At least Iím aware enough to know I should be seeking.

The news of vast ignorance that reaches me these days is staggering. College kids who canít articulate their reasons for being in college, let alone a reason for their drawing breath. (How bizarre that seems to one who graduated high school because it was easier to pass me through than deal with me another year.) From what their teachers tell me, the kids have never been confronted with a philosophical question, let alone been encouraged to think! This fits in sadly with my own observations of the last thirty or so years.

As a people, weíve been denied a reason for living. At best, we are offered a seriously flawed philosophy, one proclaimed by our elect and anointed intellectuals as the balm for all our pain and fears. Having been systematically denied access to any other possible philosophy, todayís children look into their future and seek a simpler escape. Heroin or any other drug that eases the pain.

I donít know that this current generation can be saved, or even enlightened. Perhaps the next one can be set onto the path if changes are begun now. I donít see that happening though. I see, based on history, three or four generations of deepening, abject misery before the universe sends yet another teacher to show humanity a way out of darkness.

Iíve been asked to help stop the drug abuse. How ironic as I sit here contemplating a second half glass of Shiraz to ease my own pain. Still, I see the need, though I doubt any will follow.

I recommend a quick dousing in reality. "All life is pain caused by ignorant desire." So said Gautama Buddha, or so itís been claimed. I havenít met the man to ask him if he said that or no. From there Iíd read George Orwellís "Animal Farm" followed by a reading of Karl Marxís "Communist Manifesto" (I am stunned by the self-proclaimed socialists who have never read their masterís opus!) Then back to Orwell and his "1984" (we be there.) Then Iíd go with The Teaching Companyís "Ethics of Aristotle", the library has all of these works, or can get them.

Would any of these works solve the current problem? Hell no. At best they are a starting point. Iím not sure theyíd benefit the clueless parent let alone the totally ignorant child. These works might, at best, lead one to examine and question the current philosophy that has led us to this place. A philosophy that allows no other view. A philosophy that has no objection to self-destruction. A philosophy devoid of what makes the naked ape human.

How sad that in 6,000 years of knowable human history, the best we can do is a sad, twisted socialism that discounts the individual.

I do not weep for the dead and dying. Nor do I laugh at the confusion of their loved ones. No. I plant garlic. I plant because doing so means I believe there will be a tomorrow when I will harvest my efforts.

(This has been the most difficult column Iíve written. Several times Iíve quit, once I wrote the editor and told him I had burnt out. Iíve struggled beyond reason to organize my thoughts and form them so I could make sense of them. I expect nothing to change because of the effort.)

The garden calls.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.