Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Sterile Souls

Modern farming has sought to improve on natural soil. Weeds and bugs can be so annoying, so why not just kill everything? So we sterilize the soil and add the nutrients that we need. They say we only need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, NPK. That's what those numbers stand for on fertilizer bags, like 10-10-10. All the natural and unpredictable stuff is stripped from the soil. And plants flourish. They grow bigger, stronger, faster, with better yields than ever--in the short run. In the long run, it takes more and more inputs. The pests adapt and return with vengeance. And the soil becomes so poor that it washes away with the rain. All this requires more ingenuity, more engineering, and more intervention. And sadly, the nutritional value of these industrial farming products is far inferior to the old, natural fruit.

I wonder if the modern soul feels like that, like the sterilized soil. All the man-made inputs pervade life and leave us stripped of all the earthy, unpredictable richness of natural life. Virtual reality promises safe adventures to tourist sites and fantasy lands. It's just as good as being there. Virtual meetings promise to connect people, just like face-to-face, all done digitally. Social media algorithms feed us exactly what we need to stay engaged with our devices. Smart watches and smart mattresses tell us exactly how well we sleep each night.

Life can be bigger, stronger, faster, with better productivity. But what is the cost? We need more inputs. Vitamin pills fill in the gaps left by our processed foods. All this engagement stresses us out, but there's a pill for that. We have heart issues, high blood pressure, diabetes--but again, we have chemical solutions for all these problems. Oh, and the side effects can be addressed with medication as well.

Look at all our improvements. We may have more stuff and more convenience, but is life really better? How's the soil of your life? What would it be like to get back the richness that is so mysterious and so life-giving? It takes time, years, to restore sterile soil. Restoration begins with eliminating all the sterilizing inputs, then adding organic material, and sowing life-giving seeds. Over time, soil is restored. It becomes fertile and rich. And it gives life.