Posted on March 25, 2009 by Blake Leath

"Morality, when vigorously alive, sees farther than intellect and provides unconsciously for intellectual difficulties."

                                                                                              J.A. Froude


Earlier today, I spoke with a man in Westford, Vermont.  "It's damn cold here," he shared.

Cold.  Yes, I remember that feeling.

But last week I was in Hawaii, this week I'm in Texas, and next week I'll be in California, which I'm sure will be glorious.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop in Montpelier, Vermont.  It was colder-than-cold.  (I don't fare too well in the cold.  Some people thrive, but my blood's so thick that I sputter and shake.  It's as if my fluids turn to sludge and the 'ol body just sorta seizes up.)  But wow, Montpelier was gorgeous, and it wasn't even Spring yet.  I'd love to go back some day.

I've spent my fair share of time in the cold around the world... scraping windshields, trudging through snowdrifts, fighting to open doors in the howling wind, wishing I had galoshes or waterproof socks, and sitting on miserable airplanes after midnight -- waiting for the de-icing machine to make its third pass.

But today, my observation is one about Weeds -- the sort that have been recently exposed across the blanket of our lawn as Spring hits our region.

Texas weeds are world-class.  Enormous, like the State they occupy.  And my, oh my, have we got some weeds in our yard.  As I gingerly wandered around our yard this past Sunday, I found weeds of all sorts and stripes. 

Broad, squatty weeds... the kind that hug the ground and hide too low to be whacked by the mower.

Circular, spindly weeds... the kind that run and shoot and trail off in countless directions like an octopus.

Bright, flowery weeds... the kind my daughter plucks and mistakes for flowers.

Tall, milky weeds... the kind that catch on your armpit as you wade through what might as well be a cornfield.

And dandelions... the kind of weed that reproduces so amply that rabbits and the octomom herself are shamed.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, it's cold.  And weeds will not be seen for weeks.  (This may be one instance where the grass really is greener somewhere else.  Or perhaps not.  The weeds certainly are.)

I think this contrast of Vermont v. Texas is a good reminder for us all.

Everything is seasonal.

Things grow, things die.  What came, went.  What is not, will be.

For many, it's still Winter.  For some, it's Spring.

And with Spring come Weeds.

As the tide turns with our economy (and it will, one day), the greener pastures we've been longing for all winter will be accompanied by weeds.

Some of us will greet the green with open arms like Puxtahawney Phil, eager to crawl out from the dark lair of winter.

But some will greet the green with derision, turning their noses up at imperfections and commenting snootily (as the critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille, played brilliantly by Peter O'Toole), "Oh.  Weeds."

I understand this.  This is human nature.  It is captured by turn in the notions of Selective Perception, Broken Windows Theory, Boiled Frog Phenomenon, The Pygmalion Effect, Target Fixation, and Chevreul's Pendulum.  Some people are simply inclined to see the smudge on the Rembrandt. 

No matter; it is what it is and they are who they are.

But alas, for you and me -- however frustrated we might be when Spring is accompanied by those buggery, parasitic Weeds -- let us revel in the fact that Winter has gone and Summer is but a couple months away. 

The world is full of people who only see the weeds in the meadow.  So be it.  Though they themselves might very well be weeds in our own organizations, everything and everyone has a purpose.  With the toil that is required to remove or tame whatever challenges lie in our path comes the appreciation of all we have and the joy its beauty brings.

In these days when our respective governments are taking actions to curtail, quarantine, and repair our ravaged economies, I cannot help but equate their work with plastic surgeons.  Plastic surgery seems to be one of those very delicate pursuits.  With just the right nip or tuck, ducklings might become swans.  But too many surgeries, or too radical... and we have a Michael Jackson problem of disfiguration.

There are no panaceas for the ills that have befallen us.  What is required is transformative, systemic, holistic change that will take years of exercise and diet to manifest fully into a healthier global economy.  This is perfectly representative of one situation in which morality must indeed see farther than intellect, because there is no chance that everything that will be tried will work right out of the chute. 

There will be foibles and mis-steps, errors and blunders.  Such is the case with governing, with public policy, and with complex issues that span countries, cultures, and currencies.

But as the gardeners demonstrate, with a little patience and pruning, together we can plant and nurture a healthy and lush field everyone can enjoy.