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Several years ago we started a community garden where I live.  We worked at it quite energetically.  We got more and more people involved.  Much of the hardest work involved digging irrigation ditches to bring water to the soil.

We made progress slowly.  We brought water to little corners of the garden.  But the work was exhausting, and some people burned out and needed to take a break.  Usually they'd be back within a year and working shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of us again.

The work was hard but extremely enjoyable.  The camaraderie of it was a benefit whether or not the garden was yet prospering.  It was very properly called a community garden.

Then the rain dancers arrived.  And most of the people who had been toiling joined the rain dancers.  We were to have rain aplenty for four years if we rain danced just right, rain we could rely on and believe in.  And the digging could finally cease.

Well, most of our energy went into the rain dance, and it produced the most stupendous rain dance any of us had ever seen.  And it rained.  It rained no more than normal, but people squinted to see signs of hope that the rain dance had succeeded and the sky had changed.  And as they gradually began to accept that the dance hadn't changed anything at all, they became despondent.

And I would ask them "Did you really believe a rain dance would work?"  And they would say "No, of course not."  And I would ask why, then, everybody had become discouraged all at once, unlike any time in the past.  

Our work had slowed, but only because people had chosen to focus elsewhere.  Our knowledge of how to best dig the necessary ditches was continuing to improve.  There were ever more of us available to do the digging if only we would do it.

And they said "Yes, but why should we expect digging ditches to work, when the rain dance didn't?"

Originally posted to David Swanson on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 01:04 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What about the Unicorn Ponies? (4+ / 0-)

    I did a unicorn pony dance.
    It was a most magical unicorn pony dance,
    Yet mine ne'er arrived.

    Despondent I, my frown was legendary.

    Who will bring me my unipony now, who who...

  •  another... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiaD, Edger

    I had a garden in my back yard.  So did most of my neighbors.  For many a year we did produce such a bounty of wonderful foods, so much so that all of us on the block would trade one another for our crops, or often give it away out of the sheer fact that we had so much to give.  It seemed we all had a garden back then!

    One day a man named Ronnie came by to admire our garden.  Upon inspecting it, he began to tell us how unsatisfactory it was.  It seemed that a pest had invaded our garden, and that it had invaded the gardens of everyone in the country.  A very scary pest it was -- one of the eight scariest in the world, we were told.  Of course, we had no idea that this pest was there, silently destroying our garden from the ground up.  But, what Ronnie said seemed to make great sense, and he made such a convincing argument.  

    "Help me" said Ronnie.  "Help me with my task, and I promise you that when it is accomplished, this pestilence will subside and you'll be growing vegetables so glorious, that we'll all be able to eat as much as we want!"  

    I didn't believe Ronnie, but many people did, and they joined Ronnie and worked hard for him.  Ronnie eventually got his task accomplished, and it was hailed as a great success!  

    Yet, despite Ronnie's reassurances, the pestilence in everyone else's garden  seemed to get worse.  Year after year, my own garden yielded fewer and fewer foods, and those it did produce were bitter and lacked nutrition, this despite the fact that people had done what Ronnie asked, and I was working on my garden even harder than I was before.  

    Over time, the gardens of my neighbors began to fail.  The pests were so bad that my neighbor lost his garden when, for some reason, the pests actually moved the whole thing to Mexico.  His garden in Mexico is thoughful enough to send him food, but my neighbor resents having to buy what he once made with his own hands.  He was also quite upset when his daughter died of salmonella.

    The plight continued, for many years, more and more neighbors lost their garden to the invisible pest.  

    Nearly 30 years passed when a new man came to my garden -- The Man of Hope.  Seeing me toiling away upon it to little benefit, he promised me that if I worked for him -- and worked hard -- that he would not only get rid of the pests, but would pay me back for my labor with magic fertilizer that would make the garden grow again.  

    I went to my neighbors and told them of this new man, and the promises he made.  With them I audaciously shared the promise of change.  At first they were resistant, but over time, they too heeded the clarion call of hope and change!  And we worked.  We worked harder than we did for Ronnie so moving was this man's appeal, so hopeful he did leave us.  We gave what we could, as little as that may have been, and we worked, worked, worked, until at last the skies cleared from the dour and dreary gray that had been looming all those years, and the light of hope did begin to beat upon the earth!

    And we waited for the garden to sprout, and for the bounty that had been promised.  So hopeful for it were we, that we could almost taste the sweet spoils of our labor.  

    But nothing happened that spring.  While the tea gardens bloomed, ours did nothing.  

    A year later, the pest is just as strong as it ever was.  Maybe stronger, since the man of Hope actually paid the pest not to die, and has not taken any action to stop its spread.  The skies grew gray yet again as the spring of hope seemed to fade.  Nobody's garden grew.  The gardens of many more had died that year.  

    Recently, an envelope arrived in the mail.  It was from the man of hope.  It contained a ziploc bag full of donkey shit, with a note that read "hope this fertilizer helps your garden grow, and I hope I can rely on your help in 2010!"  

    So many saw the possibilities in that bag of donkey shit and the promise it held.  It was a start, said they.  But most everyone else saw it for what it was:  a stinky bag of shit.  

  •  There is a similar Buddhist story worth noting. (0+ / 0-)

    There was a terrible drought.  10,000 monks from the Nyignma sect came to the valley and meditated and prayed for rain.  They were there for a very long time without producing even a drop of rain.  They persisted to meditate and pray; the sky remained blue.  One day a monk from Kagyu sect arrived.  He saw the 10,000 monks meditating and praying.  He scrambled up a tree, hung upside down over a large branch, and released a tremendous fart.  It immediately started to rain, and it rained hard until the land received all of the water it needed and the drought was ended.

    Moral of the story: one Kagyu fart is worth 10,000 Nyingma prayers.

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