The Militant Gardener

Subverting Implements of Destruction for Wildflower Seed Propagation.

We humans are a tribal species. Merriam-Webster gives two definitions for tribalism, “1: tribal consciousness and loyalty; especially : exaltation of the tribe above other groups. 2: strong in-group loyalty.” Modern examples of tribalism and its effects may be found at all levels of society. From the loyalty we feel toward our families and friends to cheering for our favorite sports team; from heated political debate to the bigotry and violence of one religion or ethnic group toward another. We tend to exalt our social group above others. Even as I write this I can't help but feel that the social group that identifies with my views is wiser than those who oppose them. We dehumanize our adversaries and can be capable of deep cruelty and even murder.

As our species has created ever more advanced technology we have become just as sophisticated in our ability to save or prolong the lives of those with whom we identify as we are in the ability to end the lives of our enemies. Our species has an equal capacity to create and destroy. Our religions and social contracts teach us not to kill, yet our nations send us off to war. We are all capable, in the right conditions, of the most humbling expressions of love and the most brutal acts imaginable. The love we have for those we identify as self arouses the desire to protect them from harm.

We do not just have the capacity to create and destroy we also enjoy doing both. Fireworks have been popular since their inception. We have festivals devoted to burning or destroying all manner of effigies. We are fascinated by natural disasters, by the demolition of buildings, and by films of atom bomb tests.

As we mature as individuals some of us come to find human beings, outside of the groups we consider to be ours, are not any less than us, have no less right to live, and are in fact still a part of our group. Some of us continue to extend this consideration to animals and thus refrain from killing and consuming them. We become peacemakers. To this end we often suppress our destructive self. We suppress the one that marvels at the beauty of an atomic explosion. The one who loves to shoot guns and burn things without reason.

Creation and destruction is the whole of the universe. Particles come together and move apart. Things arise and cease. We are born and we die. Our consciousness is of this world, it is wired not only to observe the processes of creation and destruction, but to actively participate in the process. Fighting our nature is fruitless, only through accepting and understanding the process can we transcend it and find balance.

When we suppress one half it often arises in service to the other half. Countless hours of creative thought have been in service to destruction. Conversely, it is easy to care so deeply for those you see suffering needlessly, or for the right for all things to live free from cruelty, that you might kill in an attempt to stop those who cause suffering. In both cases the imbalance leads violence against others which is unconscionable.

For too long we who are devoted to peace, social justice, and sustainability have let the war hawks have all the fun (the testing is fun, not the resulting murders). Their toys are tanks, guns, and bombs. Ours are civil disobedience, essays and shovels; none of which explode. It is time to adopt their means! Just not their ends. This is not a call for revolution, or violence, or terrorism. This is a call to let our destructive half fully express itself in union with our creative half in a way which does no harm.

We must fold the technologies of war into our practices of peace, but we must find ways to use them which do no harm.

We must welcome our destructive self and provide a healthy space for it to live in balance with our creative self. We must convert our internal swords into ploughshares.

So how do we do this? How may we be destructive and creative in a balanced way and do no harm?

As the Militant Gardener I have been developing rapid seed propagation technologies to increase biodiversity with native wildflower seeds. By adopting and subverting the technologies of war I have been reclaiming my destructive side and bringing it into balance with my creative side. These creations and experiments are but one possible manifestation of this practice. I encourage you to embrace your destructive side in a creative way which does no harm as well. If you choose to work with things that are inherently dangerous, take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you do yourself no harm.