August 16, 2010
My name is Marc Daniels and I am the eldest grandson of Ross Daniels, the inventor of the Ross Root Feeder, a popular irrigation tool for the hobby gardener. Based on my family heritage, life experience and educational research, I believe that I have acquired a unique spiritual perspective worthy of your consideration at this important commemoration.
Happily, I’d like to take the opportunity of this event to share with you the good news that the cities of Springfield, Illinois and Des Moines, Iowa have each issued proclamations calling for the children of their communities to go into their yards and gardens and pull out a symbolic weed—roots and all—in order to “weed-out-hate” and to keep the spirits of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln alive in our hearts.
These declarations provide us with a great beginning, but my vision for the future is far greater. Like Doctor King, whose historic speech we recall today, I too have a dream. But my desire to speak truth to power is more modest than his ever was. It is simply this: To present the White House with a permanent pear tree around which would be planted a field of no ordinary weeds. In my vision children from divided communities around the world would be invited to rip out these “weeds of hate,” as as as symbolic means of remedying the poisoned racical, religious, and ethnic tensions that have afflicted too many societies since time immemorial.
In my dream you don’t have to live in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia or Bolivia to be invited to the White House. Rather from this humble and historic homestead, I call upon the worlds’ children to go into their own yards, gardens and parks and pull out their own weeds of hate. Perhaps this clarion call will reverberate around the world to spark one coordinated, global “weed-out-hate” moment in which humankind would experience the type of universal ecology of the spirit that unites us all— a taste of the brighter and more enlightened future that lies within each of us and together within us all.
As the grandson of a self-styled American inventor, who, when it came to business, never took no for answer, I dream of presenting our President, Barack Obama, with a Ross Root Feeder. Why? That ingenious invention, which brought so many gardeners closer to nature, can now serve a much higher purpose. Root feeding is a great illuminator and facilitator. It bypasses the weeds and trains the roots of young trees to search for water and nutrients at the deepest level. It unlocks the soil and facilitates the growth fauna and flora. Once re-connected, it helps us understand that even unwanted weeds can have a useful purpose, serving as a key natural—and national—resource by providing us with spiritual bio-fuel.
Once we learn to weed with the right intention, the process can energize us to dig deeper into our consciousness. By root feeding deep into the substrate of human desire and layers of clay-like prejudice—the weeds seeds of hate—you tap directly into the Promised Land that Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King had envisioned. Such a rich soil will block any hate-filled weed that arises, and will yield the ultimate fruits of our connection to nature and each other. With this awakened appetite, the fruits of our commonwealth are now within reach.
I have a dream that all elected officials and those running for office, including the President and the Vice President of the United States, venture to this historic spot in Springfield on special occasions like this to extract a weed for themselves and the for people of this great land. Our officials are caretakers of the public trust. What better way for them to commit to their responsibilities, than to first connect to the deepest roots of this country by demonstrating their resolve in this symbolic way. Let it be an honor of the highest order to dig out a weed in the very ground where Abraham Lincoln’s roots run deepest, and where he tilled the spirit of freedom and equality for all.
This is our time to facilitate the full extent of our national heritage through the strong roots that we already enjoy—the roots of kindergarten. I’m sure you know that kindergarten is German for “children’s garden.” In the 19th century, gardening was thought to be a means to an end: The way to produce the fruits that nurture the spirit as well as the body. The source of this legacy runs deep. Unfortunately, many of us feel detached from our spiritual and ethical roots. But they can be stimulated!
Today, in the face of global challenges to both our society and environment, we require a balanced collaboration of government, education and “green industry” resources to provide our children with that which they deserve and are entitled to receive: universal access to garden pedagogy.
In this time of constrained fiscal spending, I am not calling for unnecessary and wasteful soil supplements or new entitlements. There are plenty of independent, initiatives attempting to accomplish these goals: the Green Challenge, Waldorf Schools, and Alliance for Community Trees, just to name a few. We only need to support these grass roots efforts in a unified and coordinated manner.
Let me conclude my remarks with one final thought: With a diet rich in the values of gardening education, it is my fervent hope that future generations will free themselves from bias and prejudice while savoring the eternal fruits of our connection with nature and each other.
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