In a healthier age, on crisp afternoons in October, we would all gather up the fallen leaves with large rakes. With a smile, breathing deeply of the pungent air, we would put our backs into it, bringing a bit of order to gardens upon which cascades of bright foliage had fallen during the day. We would push the leaves into great piles and take running leaps into them, or have leaf fights, inhaling the turning of the season with every sense.
Now … we pay landscaping companies to run noisy, smelly, horrid leaf blowers and edge trimmers. We stay inside, staring blankly at flickering screens, posting vacuous messages on “social media.” We have lost touch with the soil, and the autumnal fruits of the earth. A few months later, we would rejoice in the first snowfall. We would bring out big boots and big shovels, hats and gloves, and charge outside. Now we hire poor Mexicans to drive up in their battered pickups to run snowblowers while we “work” safely indoors.
I’m told that one of the Black Lives Matter founders was caught buying multi-million-dollar homes in Malibu and other exclusive locales. Patrisse Khan Cullors is one more story of how a respected religious leader (for certainly BLM is a religion) has been unmasked as a hypocrite As Eric Hoffer observed, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” The difference between right religion and secular causes is that Christianity at least acknowledges Original Sin. Despite the unholiness and at times criminality of her members, the Church daily confesses her sins and makes efforts to do penance. I suggest that an example of humble penance for our national and personal sins could be raking leaves and shoveling snow by hand. St. Francis never hired a groundskeeper, and Mother Theresa never purchased a leaf blower.
Leaf blowers disturb us, not only because they vomit noise and toxic smoke into our neighborhoods. They annoy us because they signal decadence. They reveal the laziness and arrogance of a people who cannot work for themselves, who purchase expensive machines at Home Depot or pay immigrants to do their manual tasks so they can fly off to expensive conferences on social justice and global warming. We claim victimhood while purchasing lavish homes in Malibu. If Patrisse Khan Cullors, and the rest of us, want to be a bit happier and a bit more human, we might begin by raking our own leaves, and enjoying the work of our hands.