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Eudaimonia: My own private Syria

25 Sep. 2013 Posted by Scott Selliers
Round-up, environmentalist idealism, living green, natural weed killers

“The function of the well-intentioned individual, acting in isolation, is to formulate or disseminate theoretical truths. The function of the well-intentioned individuals in association is to live in accordance with those truths, to demonstrate what happens when theory is translated into practice, to create small-scale working models of the better form of society to which the speculative idealist looks forward.” Aldous Huxley

Stonybrook consists of a rectangular wedge of gently rolling pastures, roughly marked into thirds by a bedrock streambed at one division and the hilltop upon which our home is perched at the other. Being once (and hopefully soon again) used as pasturage, the majority of the nearly seven and a half acres is fenced with barbed wire, thus creating a perimeter of approximately thirty-two hundred feet of aging cobbled-together fence line to be repaired, strengthened and, in a few places, completely replaced. As our plans include goats, mules and horses, these fences must be addressed in order to move forward. It is from within these efforts that I have come to know my own capacity for hypocrisy; the degree to which I am able to ignore my own ideals. There will be chemicals…

As we have worked to clear the dense hedge-like vegetation away from the property lines in order to mend and further assess the fence line, we have discovered the existence of a most heinous foe: poison ivy. While I am personally immune to poison ivy’s nefarious charms, my wife and son are both susceptible to its particular brand of dermal wrath. Time and again work has been halted at its sighting; retreats are made and concessions granted. However, the labor required frequently necessitates teamwork; our plans for Stonybrook hinge on the eradication of one of nature’s reminders that our mastery of this planet is illusory. Having tried to manually remove the ivy’s vines from the hedge, I have engaged in a whack-a-mole farce; as far as we advance on one front we retreat along another. While I remain open to suggestion for an alternative, I have acquiesced to the use of Round-Up.

For your consideration (and my horror), a parallel to our current national political scene can now be etched out: While our President has asked his constituency for the blessing to use selective military force in Syria, I seek your understanding in my use of chemical herbicides against my botanical nemesis. I make no plans for broadcast spraying; this will be no war. I will be selectively and precisely targeting only those agents requiring eradication. Does any of this sound familiar‽

While Huxley notes above that there is a difference between the focus of the concerned individual and the modus operandi of a group, I can’t avoid falling prey to the dictates of the necessity of my situation. A line is always the straightest path between two points. At times this reality means that our conceptual property lines, when so easily drawn across a map, force us to cross not only patches of Nature as-it-is, but also patches of moral manifestation out here in the real world. I am well aware of the required de facto chemical abstinence of the Green Zealot; the problem lies in my concurrent awareness of the writhing discomfort of my wife and son after exposure to one of Nature’s mercenaries. However, in the spirit of our President setting aside his executive privilege as Commander in Chief with regards to military force in Syria, I will defer to your careful consideration and suggestion. Be warned, dear reader: What initially appears to be my hypocrisy could just as easily be discovered to be your untested idealism.


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