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“Sometimes feeling positively may be just as threatening as negative feelings.  We must want to deny the reality that is uncomfortable, painful, or incongruous to what we expect.  It means we must also alter our perception of ourselves.  Thus, if you are in denial, perhaps you are simply trying to ignore the truth about what you actually feel, rather than about what you are doing or thinking.”  From “On Being in Denial: What does being in denial really mean?” Psychology Today, 5/15/2018.   Mary C. Lamia Ph.D.

It’s not a matter of changing what most people will or will not think, nor changing what they will or won’t do.  “Most people” are not called to be change-agents, and making this the issue is pure misdirection.  If solving the problems of a species in full planetary swarm depends on “most people” (that would be us), and we’re supposed to tinker with our personal comfort level for the larger good, then we’ll only get what we got now:  Compound ignorance gone to seed.  

Will Rogers once observed that “There are three kinds of men.  The ones that learn by readin’.  The ones that learn by observation.  The rest will have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”  Even optimists agree it can’t be good when our every problem solving approach seems tied to the electric-fence posture.

In the Doran renaissance of 2038, as reported in earlier columns, a form of ‘contemplative mindfulness training’ had come about via the opportunity to design a new town.  The idea was to create an economic ‘destination location’ but the issue of adopting a unified architectural code came up.  What will the build-out of New Dora look like?   As predictable as sin, this question ignited a citizens’ uproar over how to proceed.  By the time a modicum of informed deliberation finally ensued, “most people” were paying far closer-than-usual attention to mundane details of everyday life. Their deliberations had turned into an exercise for elevating self-awareness, though nobody signed up for it, as such.   

Who wants to expose their personal trance elements to collective appreciation?  Anybody?  Speak up?  Exactly.  So this dynamic of self-remembering’s got to be conducted like a pioneer era tent revival:  It takes things happening right now head-on, rebrands social anxiety as social capital, and reverses the negative charge for a whole community.  The expected result is the spirit of human kindness and hope for all.  Not one county in Missouri can feed its own people?  Then let’s all shout: “Not one of my neighbors will go hungry!”  and we can just call it devotion-in-motion.

Rancher Robert (Bob) said: “You know times are ugly when people take comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke.  We got fed up of watching politicians flinging stuff at the wall like chimpanzees in the primate house. Several patrons at Roy’s Store also pointed up the fact that “Avoiding it’s a necessity.  Stepping in it’s a choice!”  But somehow they experienced a state of unity that shattered this illusion; they stopped looking to others for solutions. 

Carol emphasized that “When we cut through the ideological differences to get to that person underneath, we can find common ground.  My women’s seed saving circle made me more aware of my neighbor needs and larger choices in my life, both.  I began to feel I have the capacity to make a difference.  That’s when I began to see that, although anything I do may seem insignificant, reaching out does make a difference – in my own life, in other’s lives, and ultimately the world.”    

“The mighty fiction of our separate egos ended with the Crash” a retired pastor noted.  “It was a rude awakening to everyone snared in magical thinking and the conceit of a personalized escape pod.  Fortunately, for my community a revival of the ‘we space’ in our hearts was pretty far along.   We held on, and to our amazement, found wholeness even in times of crushing grief.” 

But since the attentive reader knows all this, probably, one might be asking:  “What conditions are required in my own community to wake up to larger responsibilities?  Are examples like New Dora also stirring elsewhere?  Will my faith make the difference?”  We need to be asking these questions. 

And the answers lead inexorably to the topic of fescue fungus.  It’s an endophyte that stands as a good analogy for why the consensus trance is so hard to eradicate in humans.  Bear with me here.  I’ll sketch the background info while you can color in the social parallels. What’s an endophyte?  It’s often a bacterium or fungus that lives within the plant between living cells without causing apparent disease to the host.  It may remind us of certain politicians and John Grisham’s lawyers, but that’s not the point.  The problem for cattle ranchers and dairymen is that Neotyphodium coenophialum flourishes in tall fescue, the major food source for the bovine population all across the Ozarks.

This fungus produces an ergot alkaloid that’s detrimental to cattle performance causing millions of dollars of lost revenue in the cattle industry.  You can’t see it, and you wouldn’t have any idea that it’s there.  But cattle grazing on fungus-infected fescue during summer months can have decreased daily gains- over a pound per day for each animal.  That’s because consumption of ergot alkaloids causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels, disrupts thermo-regulation in cattle.  However, fungus-infected fescue is hardy and drought resistant, which makes it difficult to eliminate the plant.  We live in an infected fescue desert because the fungus increases tolerance to heat, cold, drought and environmental stresses.  The government claims we must live in a usury-infected financial desert for the same reasons.

Up by Cabool last summer, some cattlemen sold down their herds because the pastures had dried up in the drought – but not all.  Some had learned about native plants and how to establish them in a silvopasture plan for their property.  Their soil restoration goals, and the idea of bringing back a resilient local food supply, meant converting pasture to deep-rooted warm weather grasses and natives.

Why?  They’d found out about a research project that measured the biomass production of a diverse, 16 species native planting vs. the production of a monoculture.  The project revealed that the biomass production of the diverse plots was 238% of the production of a single species – even if the species was switchgrass, which is considered Biomass King.  If an increase of this magnitude could be achieved for biomass, could we significantly increase the forage production on our land with native diversity?  Here’s the testimony:

“In 2012 we replaced the fescue in a pasture with a mix of diverse natives, such as warm season grasses and cold season grasses and native forbes and legumes.  Since that time, we have been measuring the forage produced on the diverse native grassland as opposed to a fescue pasture on the next hill over.  We just finished calculating grazing days for our grazing year (which runs April 1 through march 30), because we want to know how close we are getting to 238%.  Last year was our 6th growing season for the diverse native grassland, and it is our best yet.   We produced 241% of the forage that the fescue field produced.  In other words, you can have a 100 acre field and grow fescue on it or you can convert it to a diverse native grassland and have the equivalent forage of 241 acres!  Just by changing the plant composition, we are able to effectively double the forage production.” (www.hamiltonnativeourpost.com/blog.php?post_id=12)

And yes, putting forth a positive view of a shared, peaceful and inclusive future can be as threatening to our leaders as pulling out a field of infected fescue and replacing it with something better.  The Deep State has no clue about how the rest of us live.  Here’s a typical phone call:  “Hello.  I want to order the industry-leading, long-haul, mid-size wide-body technology of the 787 Dreamliner for my birthday.  My bug-out pad’s in New Zealand, so it better get there without refueling, just in case.  Wait!  Make that two jets.  Lovey wants hers in robin egg blue.  My people are sending your people some paint chips.  Beeep.”  

No, in a system where any billionaire can grow up to be president, let’s stop testing fences the hard way.  The intelligent alternative’s a peaceful scenario in which we take management of our own watershed economies, and restore our prospects from the ground up.  We don’t need corporate poisons to remove fescue in order to replant with a sylvopasture design.  We need only disc the field well and overplant with non-GMO sesame, a crop most well suited to the Ozarks. 

Anyone who wants to experiment with a sesame patch can leave word for me here at the Herald office, and I’ll get in touch.  There’s plenty of customer demand, but we’ll need to get a mobile oil-press made, plus other stuff.