By Qin Sun Stubis
It’s been a month since I moved to Bethesda, Maryland, a short hop away from the nation’s capital. My friends are curious about what I have been doing in my new homestead, besides unpacking. “I’ve been doing a lot of work in my garden,” I told them.
Knowing how hot the summer is here this year, they warned me to be careful and to wait for better weather, but I told them I found most of the work was too divine. Or, at least that’s what they thought I said. Little did they know that I said most of the work was to “de-vine.” I literally meant taking away vines.
The warm weather in D.C. has been very inviting to morning glories, ivy and all sorts of climbers. Seeing these green opportunists triumphantly peeking out of every bush and tree around my new house, I knew it was war: I wrestled and I pulled. I dug my fingers under the dirt and fought with their stubborn roots. I reeled in endlessly long vines and contained them in a large green recycling bin. And, I did it all in the record heat that has also enveloped Washington this year!
In the beginning, all I wanted was to get rid of the vines. Yet, as I worked, I realized that I was excavating and releasing the true grace of my garden, for beneath the thick tangles were moss-stained stone edges, sandy white pebble beds, and tastefully arranged clusters of summer perennials: I actually have a beautiful garden here. I started to be more careful as I played my daily tug of war and cleared up one section at a time.
My garden experience has reminded me of the current turbulent political and economic situation in America. Unemployment, debt, the threat of lost security, and mortgage defaults are some of the wild vines ravaging our social garden these days. They make everything around us unpredictable, overwhelming and challenging. We struggle so hard with a thicket of creepy, crawling uncertainties that we cannot see our beautiful garden buried underneath–our own lives.
Sometimes we are so discouraged and disgusted by the reality that we are tempted to call it quits. Luckily, the strong, enticing vision of our American dream is still propelling us forward and making us hopeful. But, if we don’t plow through this jungle of vicious problems soon, our grand vision and hope will sink deeper and deeper until they are buried and lost forever.
Like a messy garden, there is no quick fix for an entangled life or society. It calls for much determination and courage from everybody. We all have to roll up our sleeves and get down to some hard work, ready to sweat and shed a few pounds. Always remember that it takes a lot of negligence and wrongdoing over time to create chaos, and it’ll take a lot of correction to claim back a sense of normalcy.
For the lucky Americans who happen to be immune to the current political and economic mayhem, you should not forget to aid those who struggle around you. Eradicating financial and social uncertainties is everyone’s responsibility. If you sit and watch wild vines devouring your neighbors’ gardens, you are one step closer to being enveloped by the threat yourself. America the Beautiful will recover her radiant beauty only when flowers resurface in everyone’s garden.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.