Reprinted from the newletter Passages (No. 31, Winter 2000) published by the Pennsylvania
Association for Sustainable Agriculture based in Millheim, PA:
Mohandas Gandhi, the great spiritual and political leader of India, once warned against the internal forces that
he felt could destroy a nation. They are:
1. Politics without principle;
2. Wealth without work;
3. Commerce without morality;
4. Pleasure without conscience;
5. Education without character;
6. Science without humanity and
7. Worship without sacrifice.
Gene Bazan, sent me the following:
G. Tyler Miller, president of Earth Education and Research, and Adjunct
Professor of Human Ecology at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, has
published textbooks on EE which have become standards. I recall using or
reviewing for use one of his books back in the seventies when I was
teaching in Man-Environment Relations at Penn State. In the opening
paragraph of his "Sustaining the Earth: An Integrated Approach" 3rd
edition, he writes:
"In 1966 I heard a scientist give a lecture on the problems of
overpopulation and environmental abuse. Afterward I went to him and said,
'If even a fraction of what you have said is true, I will feel ethically
obligated to give up my research on the corrosion of metals and devote the
rest of my life to research and education on environmental problems and
solutions. Frankly, I don't want to believe a word you have said, and I'm
going into the literature to try to prove that your statements are either
untrue or grossly distorted'.
"After six months of study, I was convinced of the seriousness of these
problems. Since then, I have been studying, teaching, and writing about
them. This book summarizes what I have learned in over three decades of
trying to understand environmental principles, problems, connections, and
A Great Story about Lawns...
"Winterize your lawn," the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I've fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize it? I hope it's too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four-step chemical dependency.
Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis
"Frank you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What
happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a
perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type
of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar
from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and
flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by
now. But all I see are these green rectangles."
"It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They
started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to
kill them and replace them with grass."
"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract
butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's
temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want
all that grass growing there?"
"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it
green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning
any other plant that crops up in the lawn."
"The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really
fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."
"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it -
sometimes twice a week."
"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"
"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."
"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"
"No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."
"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will
grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it
"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back
on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and
saves them a lot of work."
"You aren't going believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing
so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they
can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."
"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a
sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow
leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In
the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to
keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus,
as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a
natural circle of life."
"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new
circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles
and have them hauled away."
"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the
winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"
"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they
call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the
"And where do they get this mulch?"
"They cut down trees and grind them up."
"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint
Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you
scheduled for us tonight?"
“Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."
"Never mind I think I just heard the whole story."
forwarded by e-mail from Susan Mudd - origin unknown