Fire ant and politician control

Fire ants can sure ruin a beautiful day. They are a lot like politicians.  They don’t care about the people and they will never admit they did wrong. Actually, fire ants are more altruistic than politicians. Fire ants will sacrifice themselves for their group.  Rare is the politician who sacrifices himself for anyone. Many politicians today don’t have real friends; they’ll throw anyone under the bus.

If you don’t know about fire ants, you soon will. They have been spreading across the country since they arrived in Mobile, Alabama from Brazil.  They are now as far north as Arkansas, Kentucky and Delaware.

In recent years we’ve discovered them on the edge of our property. A couple of weeks ago, after a rain, the first mounds popped up in the yard.  At the beginning the mounds aren’t so big, but let them go and they can reach more than two feet tall.  When they first invade your property, you will probably accidentally disturb their mound.  Then you’ll notice a burning sensation like your skin is on fire. If you don’t get them off you, they will continue to bite and inject venom.  Each ant has enough venom to inject you thirty times. The venom burns immediately and then turns into intense itching and a nice big scab.

Fire ants can be hard to get rid of.  Most people want to save their lawns, so they use poison, which doesn’t always work. There is one sure way to get rid of fire ants.  It has worked every time for me. Dig down in the mound until you see the eggs. That’s where the queen is. Then cover the depression with charcoal.  Spray lighter fluid generously on the coals and let it burn.  When the fire dies down, spray more lighter fluid and light it again.  Let it burn until the coals are ash.  You’ll ruin your lawn in that spot, but I guarantee you’ll get rid of the fire ants. You kill the queen, you kill the colony.

Why don’t more people use this fire ant cure?  They want to save their lawn.  But sometimes you have to cauterize a wound.

Getting rid of worthless politicians is tougher.  Like fire ants, politicians also congregate in groups—typically in buildings with domes in major cities. But setting their mounds on fire won’t help. Getting rid of one politician, even a bunch of politicians, won’t solve the problem. Others just replace them. To get rid of a fire ant mound, you have to get the queen.  If you don’t eliminate her, she will just lay more eggs and reestablish the mound.  So to eliminate bad politicians, we have to eliminate the source of those politicians. They don’t have a queen, so we have to look elsewhere.

And that’s the problem, the source of corrupt politicians is a corrupt electorate. Politicians reflect those who elect them. Our nation, our states, our cities get the politicians we deserve. Many Americans have become violent, unlawful and corrupt.  When I was growing up, kids played alone anywhere and were safe.  Parent could leave their children in strollers outside a store and know they would be safe.  Many stores in small towns had an honor system.  If the owner wasn’t there, you could take what you needed and leave the money on the counter.  We seldom went over the speed limit.  Most everyone you knew was a good Christian or at least followed the Ten Commandments.

Today, most of our country has passed the stage decried by the prophets of old: “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; they will be brought down.”

Our nation was founded by men and women who loved God, respected others, and shared a moral compass based on the Ten Commandments. That moral culture was the foundation of the Constitution of the United States. That moral culture enables  America to be resilient. The problem we are facing today was anticipated by one of the authors of the Constitution, John Adams. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Why is America in such moral, social, and political turmoil today? It is because many among us are no longer moral and religious. Many Americans no longer fear God, respect man, or have a shared sense of even the most basic morality. Some wear Hester Pryne’s scarlet letter “A” as if it were a badge of honor. Some proudly don T-shirts that read, “I had an abortion … and I don’t regret it.” Many sing rap songs that glorify abuse, rape, murder, necrophilia, and blasphemy. Many of us never blush.

Nineveh, the capital city of the wicked Assyrians, was a place where the people did not know how to blush. Due to all their wickedness and immorality, the people were in the cross hairs of rightful judgment. A reluctant Jonah let them know their lease on life was up. Surprisingly, the people received the message, humbled their hearts, and repented of their sins. And their lives and nation were spared.

The same is true for us today.  Our only hope is that enough Americans will recognize their wrong-doing and reawaken in the freedom of following basic moral, natural laws. “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”  May we walk in the light and speak the truth in love before all hope for our country is gone.

Fire ants don’t care how you feel when they sting you.  The stings are just natural consequences to stepping on a fire ant mound. Nature can be cruel. There are also natural consequences for a people who are violent and corrupt.  They will not last.  When a violent, immoral and corrupt nation dissolves, Nature doesn’t care. It’s just a natural fact.  And it will happen to the USA if we don’t wake up.

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For the context for John Adams comment, see his address to the Massachusetts Militia in 1798: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102

For more on Jonah and Ninevah, see  Jonah 3: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+3&version=NIV

For more on wicked nations whose people do not even blush, see Jeremiah 8:12: https://biblehub.com/jeremiah/8-12.htm

Regarding the importance of repentance, see Luke 13:3: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/Luke/13/3

 

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Sunday in the garden

 

Today is a perfect morning to weed the garden. It’s a clear September day in Arkansas, so the sun will be getting hot later. That means any weeds I pull will quickly wilt and turn into mulch and compost. I use the cool of the morning and the heat of the afternoon to turn weeds into compost.

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And while I’m doing it, I forget everything else. I’m just focused on pulling those weeds. How much better life could be if our culture promoted everyone spending more time with the natural cycles of life, instead of being so caught up with shopping, social media and politics.

Have you ever had a day in the garden you hoped would never end? A day when the peaches and marigolds jumped with color and the trees and shrubs so green against the blue sky. Maybe a day when the honeysuckle makes the air sweet while you prune and hoe and plant seedlings. It’s a kind of day that leaves you feeling calm, collected, and aware.

If you’ve ever had a day like this, there’s a good chance you’ve achieved, at least for a few moments, a mental state known as mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is about being more aware of what is happening both inside and outside ourselves.
I know you’ve experienced the opposite of mindfulness. Maybe you watched a video of your child’s graduation. And realized the one who took the video—you—remembered none of it.

Or maybe you’ve had the experience of realizing you missed your freeway exit long after it had disappeared in your rear-view mirror. Or maybe you have finished an entire meal without really tasting any of it because your mind was somewhere else, sacrificing both the experience of deliciousness and the opportunity to savor time.

Mindfulness is really just paying attention to what is happening around you and within you.

Some come to mindfulness via eastern religious traditions and practices. But early Christians loved mediation and mindfulness, too. Today, many of all religions almost avoid the present. We live either in regretting the past or striving toward the future, never appreciating the present.

The perfect activity to appreciate the present, to genuinely engage with the world around me, can be right outside the back door – your garden. Traditional mediation is fine, but nothing connects me more to my surroundings than gardening. When all the plants around us are reaching toward the sky, when the soil in the vegetable beds runs richly through our hands, we feel totally connected to the present moment. There is a calm in gardening which cannot be found anywhere else.

My self disappears as I garden. I enter the state some call “flow”– when you are completely absorbed in an activity. When I’m lost in the act of gardening, it has my total attention.

All our senses are working in the garden. What gardener has not closed their eyes to inhale the gentle fragrance of a flower? When I’m harvesting early peas. It’s always exciting to pull the first one from the vine, pop open the pod, tip my head back, and with a flick of my thumb pour a handful of sweetness into my mouth. Then there’s the other senses: the dazzling sight of cherry blossom in spring or the sound of leaves dancing in an autumn breeze or buzzing bees totally ignoring me as they gather nectar.

These experiences are not the preserve of the elite; nature is all around us. Gardens can be in the city, the suburbs, small towns or the country.

That is a beauty of gardening—it’s an activity which is available to almost anyone. Most of us do not have acres of land, but most of us do have access to some kind of garden. For those who do not have any outdoor space, there are community gardening plots in most communities. With a little effort and a decent trowel, we can all find our little piece of awareness.

Many aspects of modern life we do want to disconnect from – long monotone office meetings, spreadsheet filled computer screens, traffic jams. Due to the stressful and fractured nature of life, people often want to be somewhere else. It doesn’t need to be like this. If you want something that reconnects you to the world around you, which makes you more mindful of the present moment, then look no further than the soil outside your door. It may be the perfect place to reconnect with yourself, Nature and Spirit.