The purple loosestrife just started to bloom down by the brook. It’s an undeniably spectacular plant, bringing color to parched summer meadows and brook edges. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it blooms in the hottest months.
That’s when strife’s stranglehold needs the most loosening, after all. Violent crime rates, including those for aggravated and sexual assault, notoriously spike up to 12% higher during the hot summer months. But that’s just the general yearly (sadly predictable) increase in violence and irritability.
And now there’s the added complication of climate change coming into play. An interesting article published in Science back in 2013 explores the influence of climate change on human conflict. From the abstract:
We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each one standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2σ to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.
The times, they are a-changin’. Culture (rednecks taking up arms against white supremacy?) climate (iceberg the size of Delaware?), certainty (Social Security? Don’t bet on it, you entitled Millennials)–they’re all a-changin’. Stability comes with a price as old as Cain and Able and we’ve repeatedly sacrificed resiliency for efficiency and profit. There comes a point when the supply lines are so fragile that any shift will cause catastrophic changes. The Tower will tumble.
Amidst the almost nostalgic mobilization of “grassroots” and “drops in the ocean,” loosestrife can help ease our families and communities through these changes. Allying with loosestrife can help you bring peace to your three feet of influence. It’s one of the plants I use magically on a regular basis during the summer, a charm to ease anxiety and tension. A vase or two of the flowers in your home will help mitigate the rising tempers that inevitably come with August heat. Or, see what it does for you on the rush-hour subway.
Loosestrife is invasive. Loosestrife changes the land, one of the plants of Tower Time. It continues its steady expansion across the marshes, pushing out native species. Yet what we called “manifest destiny” for our white European selves, we decry in a plant as being “alien” and harmful to the status quo. One of those “damned immigrants” taking other plants’ jobs. There is a touch of irony that a plant named “loose strife” has inspired such a crusade against it.
It’s no esoteric accident that purple loosestrife has proliferated in a time of such conflict. Loosestrife’s march is a warning, and a needed ally. If we are to bring her back into balance in our ecosystems, we must also master the same imbalance within ourselves.
Don’t hate the mirror that reflects your own shortcomings.