I asked myself this morning if there was a flower essence that in some ways might exemplify the healing our nation needs right now. I live in the United States in the era of Donald Trump and, besides that particular concern, the biggest issue I see being played out on the political stage is the extreme polarity between the right and left. It often feels like this polarity might be too difficult to bridge, that we're doomed to wage war with each other until this union is ripped to shreds. But on a good day, I don’t believe it. Both sides hold keys to what makes this nation "great" but only if we take time to recognize it and work with it as we used to do together.
I lived in a mostly conservative right-wing community for a period of time. It was challenging for a progressive liberal like me, but there were several things I admired: the values of honoring your roots and making your way through your own efforts whenever possible. Of course, that particular Mormon-based community had its own system of church-tithed social service safety net—something many decried having to pay taxes for on a national level—but that's why there, theoretically, is room in my imagination for a basis of understanding. Because the left values a safety net. They also value compassionate ways to make it more possible for people to rise up from poverty and stand on their own feet again.
Independence and interdependence, self-sufficiency and access to a helping hand. Why do we need both? Because we don’t thrive when we give up on ourselves and become dependent on others excessively. And yet we all deserve to feel like someone will catch us if we fall.
It is part of the U.S. narrative that it is possible to rise above your circumstances through hard work and ingenuity alone. And yet while there certainly are people who have made it on their own, the average wealthy person takes for granted how extensively they can depend on being caught if they fall and the positive effect that has on their psyche. Examples: personal assets separate from the money used to invest in various undertakings (limited liability corporation status, investment groups, stockholders, etc.) that allows them to take risks without hurting their personal bottom line; wealthy and successful family and collegial connections to share knowhow and opportunity; and family or personal resources that would keep them from abject poverty should their projects fail. They have a BIG safety net and that gives them a huge leg up.
When you have no such safety net, even the smallest risks and smallest-seeming mistakes can lead to the most horrific consequences—even homelessness and starvation. If you have no family or investor money, you’re always taking any risks you take with your own resources. You risk everything if you fail and, often, you’re actively discouraged from trying new (therefore risky) things by other not wealthy people frightened about having to support you if you fall. Contrast that with the wealthy who can fail multiple times, have multiple bankruptcies, be wholly unqualified, and still become president of the United States.
From a political standpoint, this is the ultimate opportunity for social control. You can take advantage of the terror people feel when you make it horrifically expensive to fail. Rising out of difficult circumstances almost always requires trying something new and being able and willing to risk again. Yes, risk! Learning to walk involves risk. Failing—falling— is how we learn to self-correct and keep from doing it again. If we punished our children as mercilessly as we punish our underemployed and unemployed adults for falling into that state, sometimes due to circumstances far beyond their control, they might never take the risk of getting on their feet at all. Of course, most people DO get back on their feet again after great loss. . . but it sure helps if they have some sort of safety net and hand out of their situation.
What flower essence would I choose symbolically for this polarity in the United States? Dandelion, the flower essence for people who strive too hard and need to have the ability to relax and use their great strength and energy in a balanced manner.
Poor and barely middle class people are stressed to just survive. It creates great tension, a belief that you have to work HARD for anything that comes to you, and an easily manipulated resentment of poorer people who appear to have everything handed to them (Social Security benefits, affordable housing, Medicaid, etc. that they really could use but aren’t quite poor enough to qualify for themselves). And yet there is little understanding of how little blessing there is in being poor and dependent on social services if you don’t have affordable enough housing or friends or relatives willing to take you in. (The difference between rural and city life could not be more dramatic when it comes to this—try finding a cheap trailer park with space in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. You are going to be homeless even if you have a job if it is minimum wage and you have nowhere else to stay.)
Dandelions have the tenacity and strength (dent de lion, tooth of the lion) to take root wherever they are planted. That’s the right-wing work ethic right there! But even dandelions can be eradicated if you take pains to dig out all their roots. A dandelion out of balance in this respect is a dead dandelion. But give them a home—leave their roots alone—and they develop into puff balls that relax and blow away on the breeze to reestablish themselves wherever they need to go. Like a wealthy person’s kid with a trust fund or a large corporation with investment capitol, they can take risks and use their energy in a dynamic yet relaxed fashion knowing someone else’s or their own protected assets will be there to catch them if they fall. Dandelions thus allowed to mature represent this healed polarity: the ability to be strong and the ability to let go and fly to new heights—as long as they have the safety net of roots, soil, enough sunshine and water.
Give people that kind of safety net AND the assistance (opportunity, training, retraining, access to small business investment funding) to get back on their own feet when they’ve been uprooted and just imagine what they could create! And you have the integration of values of the right (the importance of roots and standing on your own two feet) and the values of the left (an adequate safety net and opportunity for all even if you’ve been uprooted). A healthy Dandelion represents both sides of the polarity: inner strength and will to survive combined with the ability to relax, let go of control, fly to someplace new, and trust that you’ll be okay. That's what Dandelion flower essence is all about.