When are roots a good thing, and when are they problematic? Just as a weed is only a plant that we prefer not to allow to grow, roots are only as valuable as we perceive them to be. My mom can trace her family back several generations, but my dad was adopted and has no information about his parents' heritage. That certainly didn't cause me to love my father any less. His short life of service certainly wasn't less valuable because his roots were unknown.
People have roots because we are tribal creatures. Our connection to one another is what provides quality of life. If we feel accepted, appreciated, even just acknowledged, we feel better. If we're lonely, we seek out connections with others, entwine our roots, and create a garden of community.
When did our society's struggling people become weeds? In the 1930s, so many people were poor that if a man wandered up to someone's door and asked for help or offered to trade chores for food, he was fed, chores or not, if there was any food available. He was given a space in the barn to sleep to escape the elements. After WWII, when our returning veterans were more scarred and shell-shocked than ever in history, when their very sanity was impacted, we started getting scared. Eventually, a stranger approaching our door became a reason to call the police.
Our homeless aren't usually criminals -- criminals steal what they need instead of accepting a life of want. Sure, some people on the street are dangerous, and most of them have learned not to knock on doors and ask for help because we're so defensive these days. What choice does a decent, moral, unemployed, single person with no family or support have, except to seek charitable support, sleep in a doorway, and hold up a polite sign with hope that someone will see him as a plant worth watering instead of an annoying and useless weed?
The loss of community in our society is causing our gardens to wither. We have to allow the plants to grow, side by side, connected and intertwined and symbiotic. We need one another, and if we forget that, we're doomed. Together, we generate productivity, pride, strength, and renewal. Together, we thrive.