This guy was on to something
Our child received a DVD of 101 Dalmatians this week. I’m no Disney fan, but the kid, she likes her cats and dogs.
“How many puppies were there, kid?” I ask her after we watch it.
“Millions, Mama!” she said, proud of herself.
“How about one less than a hundred?” I ask her. We then went on to discuss numbers (again, as it’s a recurring theme with a 4 year old), especially the idea of tens. And it got me thinking about the spending we’re doing on this particular war in Iraq. We are, as you know, approaching the fifth anniversary of its beginning. Its cost in pure dollars can stagger the mind, or rather, it staggers THIS mind.
Think about this: What is it you have that you have a million of? A billion? How about a trillion? So far, we have spent a trillion dollars on this particular endeavor.
I tried to make it simple on myself and wrap my mind around the number “one million.” I thought about what it is that I could physically count. I know, for example, that millions if not billions of microbes make their home on my very person. They’re arguably too small to count without great aid, and rather disturbing to think about. Going outside, the grains of sand or, in my yard, particles of clay are likewise uncountable. I then look over to the wooded section of our land and wonder about the evergreens there: if I counted, there might be a million pine needles. We have almost two acres of pines.
Our driveway is gravel. I suppose there’s a million pebbles out there.
What else do I have a million of? Blades of grass? Check. How about leaves? Now, there is something interesting. If I looked in my vegetable garden, there’s a countable couple of thousand there in the high season. Likewise the perennial gardens and (bingo!) wow, there sure are a lot of leaves in the herb garden. (Think about a clump of thyme and you will see what I mean.) So if I count them all, I would bet I have a few hundred thousand leaves in my gardens. Probably nowhere near a million, unless I counted the trees which ring the house.
But this is war spending I am talking about. A trillion is a million millions, if you count the way we Yanks count. Other than things I cannot see with my naked eye, I don’t think I have anywhere near a billion (a thousand million) of, much less a trillion (a thousand billion) of. But what is a gardener to do, to understand the concept of the dollars we are spending (and borrowing to spend) in this war?
I am thinking of that image of that young guy placing flowers into the gun barrels of some National Guard soldiers during a protest of the Vietnam war. FLOWERS! That’s it! There’s an idea as we start our sixth year of this war. How many of us gardeners would it take to make a million flowers? A billion? A trillion? Go down the list of your flowering plants: hmm, my asters sure sport a lot of flowers. Buddleia, calendula, dahlia, echinacea, foxglove, gaillardia…keep going. We’re getting up there! Then you can cheat when you look at compound flowers like sunflowers; each head has as many flowers as it has seeds. But I am still looking at only a few thousand flowers.
Let us then grow some flowers for this war. Maybe we can have a flower sale, and send our earnings to the Treasury. But better yet, let us grow them and know that, for all our fallen, for all our injured, for all their fallen, for all their injured, for the lives changed and the dollars well spent, squandered, lost, wasted… It will take a lot of gardeners sowing a lot of flowers to make a trillion flowers to equal the trillion dollars we have spent.
Maybe a million gardeners. Maybe more. Probably, a lot more.