Dr. Christina Greer (115266)
Dr. Christina Greer

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I am always exhausted. It is the end of my academic year, and my body feels like it has held on for me to cross the finish line and close out the semester. As tired as I am at the end of May, I am also filled with a sense of renewal. As I see the flowers begin to bloom and leaves appear on the trees, I am reminded of the beautiful cycle of life, of beginnings and endings, life and death, and the emergence from darkness into days filled with light.

In many ways my thoughts about our democracy feel like the changing of the seasons, filled with dark days that never last forever, but exist, nonetheless. Right now, it feels like we are in a political winter with our rights and civil liberties entering a fallow and desolate time. That indeed may be true as Republican legislators attempt to roll back a woman’s right to choose, aid to young children and mothers, environmental protections, and so much more. However, I must remind myself that American democracy has always ebbed and flowed, experienced progress and regress, and blossomed, died, and was born anew several times already.

I find myself looking to my plants to help me process this cycle of growth, death, and blossoming. I don’t have a green thumb like my mother (yet), but as I try to keep my plants alive, I am reminded of the importance of remembering how we are all interconnected as human beings, how we are connected to the earth and the living plant matter that surrounds us, and the simple joys around us on a daily basis.
I recently started reading “Lessons from Plants” by Dr. Beronda L. Montgomery (Harvard University Press, 2021). This book explores “how we might improve human society by better appreciating not just what plants give us but also how they achieve their own purposes.” This book has changed my life for the better in a time when we need to be reminded of how we are interconnected and serve a higher purpose than ourselves, how we must continue to work together to survive, and the necessity for transformation in order to not just survive but thrive.

I have written about the transformative power of nature in the past, but “Lessons from Plants” articulates this theory in an accessible way that invites the reader in to learn more and do more. It is nature that continues to sooth and save me from the dark days we have recently experienced in Buffalo and beyond.

So, what are you doing in this moment to stay grounded and remember that the ebbs and flows of this country and this life are part of a cycle in which we are intricately connected? Whatever it is, let nature be your guide.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.

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