A few steps from my back door is a huge rosemary plant. It releases scents you can get nowhere else. Smelling rosemary seems to cause people to be mentally sharper. I can sure use that. My rosemary bush makes no demands, though I do water it in a drought. It seems perfectly fine with just supplying me with oxygen and delightful scents. That’s pretty humble. Just produce benefits for anyone passing by and don’t demand anything or expect anything.
I don’t think I will ever be as humble as my rosemary plant, but I’m working on it. Being humble is not what the vast majority of us want. Most of the world says: praise yourself, promote yourself, make yourself the center of attention, make everyone appreciate how smart and capable you are. Glorify yourself, the world seems to say.
I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work for me. I need to be humble. Every time I try to put myself first, something puts me back in my place and says, be humble.
That’s difficult for most of us humans. We want to be first. We want to be the center of attention. We begin life as crying babies who are the center of attention for our parents. Babies cry and smile and do everything they can to insure they stay the center of attention. At some point, some of us realize the futility of all that.
We realize that peace and joy and love don’t come from putting ourselves first. Those fruits come from putting first a goal larger than ourselves.
Instead we strive and strive to make ourselves great. Most of the world defines greatness as accumulation. Accumulating money or houses or cars or adulation. All over the planet are people working themselves to death to accumulate all they can.
I’m pretty good at growing rosemary and strawberries and other crops. I’ve had a lot of abundant harvests. An old story tells us of the rich man who had such abundant harvests. He produced so much that he had no place to store it all. So he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store all his surplus. Once those were built, he promised himself that he would take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.
But then he was told: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
All over the planet people are living in this delusion. We are so focused on producing more and more that we are generating millions of tons of carbon dioxide. Many say those gases are warming up the planet. The irony is that humble plants love carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide for plants is like oxygen for us. It’s not a waste product, it’s the elixir of life. Higher-than-normal CO2 concentrations dramatically enhance the productivity of plants.
By producing more CO2, mankind may be making the planet just a better place for plants. We may be turning the entire planet into a paradise for plants. We may not like a warmer planet with lots of carbon dioxide in the air. But plants will.
So all our striving to accumulate, all our striving to put ourselves first, seems to be producing a planet which is best suited for plants. The lack of humility of man is creating an Eden for humble plants.
We could cease our striving for accumulation. We could quit producing the noxious gases we are pumping into the atmosphere. We could focus more on humility and joy and peace.