April 17

It’s All about the Soil

April 17, 2017

Parenting

I grew up in Indiana, whose corn production ranked fifth among all the states of the country. In the county where I lived, most of the land not occupied by cities or forests was dedicated to the growing of corn.

On many occasions, I was fascinated by wandering around a corn field. (Yes, a strange youth.) I would wander deep in the long rows and get lost entirely in a jungle of stalks that often seemed impenetrable and endless.

Sometimes I wandered around the edge of the fields, and the transition was striking. Only a few paces from giant stalks of corn—8-10 feet tall and bearing 1000 kernels per stalk—I found corn plants six inches tall, with no visible ears and no kernels at all. The seeds of the big and little plants came from the same source—genetically identical—but the results were vastly different. Why?

The giant stalks grew in soil that was well-fertilized, thoroughly watered, and treated with the perfect dose of herbicides and pesticides. The dwarf plants—not even deserving of the word “stalks”—didn’t benefit from the full reach of the water sprinklers or the spreaders that distributed the fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. The soil was, therefore, relatively infertile, and the bugs and weeds infected and choked out the plants.

As I have become intimately acquainted with thousands of people, I have seen a difference in their strength similar to that found in the corn at the edge of the field. Some people are planted in well-watered and well-fertilized soil—they have been loved and taught consistently—so they grow beautifully. Others have not been loved and taught, so they wither in the poor soil.

We must act with the greatest care in nourishing our children and all of those for whom we have a responsibility in our positions as teachers, supervisors at work, political leaders, and more. If we do this, we raise stalks of corn that multiply a thousandfold each seed that is planted. Without nourishment, each seed produces only a stunted ghost of what might have been.

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