Doing the right thing

I grew up a short distance from where I live now, in what used to be a small village but is now a sort of satellite suburb. It is surrounded on all sides by woods (even if not all happy and healthy anymore), which makes it an ideal place for a model project of organic farming, insulated as it is. But alas, as my father reported just last week, farmers are throwing up protests left and right: they want to stick to their more lucrative non-organic ways.

And if you think about it, can you blame them?

They too are people with family, people who have to make do, and let’s face it, those kinds of farmers are, for all the purported subsidies and compensations they are eligible for, not well off.

Of course they could be forced. Rules and laws established and enforced. But history and human common sense tells us that people need to do things like that out of their own volition. They have to experience this click of realisation, that makes them want to change their farming methods… their lives.

It’s too easy to judge when in fact we all do the same thing. It’s easily said that we have to forego our creature comforts and sacrifice for the common good, but how to do that.. and what should it encompass? My children are still going to school. To football practise. My daughter meets with a friend to go shopping for craft materials. They make Christmas wishlists and yes, a gaming console is on it. What should I do? How much normal is okay, and what, exactly, is normal to be?

On some days I’d like to take them away, install them cult-like in an isolated farmhouse up on a mountain and teach them to spin, weave and sew their own clothes. Sturdy, to herd the geese in. On the other hand, is that not another form of escapism? So I’m still here, in the middle of this sad circus, listening to my fellow soccer moms plan to buy juice boxes and one-way plastic bottles to sell at the next play. Unchallenged, because just like the farmers preaching at them, green shaming them will do more harm than good, get their hackles up and alienate them. So instead I try to be the little soft voice of conscience, sitting on their shoulder, asking about reusable cups and deposit bottles.

And yes, I’m sorry and I despair at not being able to do much more. But then, with Sun and Mercury in Virgo, Moon, and North Node in Medium Coeli Sagittarius and Jupiter retrograde in Pisces Rising, I’ve got Earth, Fire and Water in one opposition and two squares (please don’t misunderstand: this is not meant as an excuse along the lines of “Oh oops sorry, the stars made me do that”. Rather, it serves as a (symbolic in the very least) way to understand the kind of person I am and why I react as I do.) The walls and obstacles I run into have been erected by me myself. Good news though: all three are mutable which makes them at least flexible and adaptable. Unfortunately, all three are mutable, which means no one takes a stand and nobody puts their foot down. Virgo drifts off to sift through the crumbs to find some more imperfections that she can deem her fault and then quietly despair… Sagittarius tries to help by going off to buy another book or three to find a solution and keep their minds occupied.. ..cheered on by Pisces on the sidelines, who, instead of sitting the whole sorry lot down to meditate, is happy to be offered another way of escapism. My only cardinal fire – Aries – is retrograde Chiron who is in no position to kick anyone’s butt.

So there I stand.

What with feeling too much and seeing little in the way of practical useful action, I have to harden myself to survive. On Monday, the apartment block at the end of our street had their tiny little front lawn tidied up. For all the articles featured in our local newspaper, talking about bans on gravel gardens and sealing surfaces, this is exactly what was done: a big plastic tarp, gravel on top. Yay.

A few years ago, our tiny local bit of wilderness – an overgrown set of out of use railway tracks – was made into a public footpath. Each year since then, it has been “tidied up” more. Wildflowers plowed under to sow a different kind of plant, shrubs and trees pruned and culled to within an inch of their lives, both remaining wildflowers and newly planted crucifers mowed regularly. After about three times I embarrassed myself by openly and publicly crying over a bumblebee trying to extract nectar from the carcass of a blue thistle, writing emails to our local environmental office and receiving a pissy dressing down in reply, I started to look away. Now, they’ve decided to build over the plot adjoining the path, and lo and behold, most of the shrubs that made up thick hedgerows were, in fact, on the other side of the fence. Now gone, all gone, only few scraggly bits of hazel remain. I had to harden my heart. I had to do this again when the ivy that grew over parts of our own fence had to go to make way for new screening: if you had seen me rip it off and out, you’d never have taken me for a druid, but if I had done it any other way, I would have hurt to the point of incapacitation.

And so it is in lots of areas in my life.

Being allowed – allow me, especially the Virgo part of me – to be perfectly imperfect, to nudge for change wherever possible… to raise topics and make suggestions without preaching and shaming, gently steering in the direction that is the right-ishest I can think of, is the only way I can live with myself.