The Dandelion Stigma

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When I walked by this dandelion outside my high school classroom recently, I immediately correlated it with a student conversion I had the day before, for this dandelion was both a symbol and a metaphor for this student, his story, and so many stories like his. It is an age-old story of individualism versus collectivism, but when the age-old stories become personal, they penetrate other whole layers of our personal human cores.

The dandelion stood noticeably tall among the freshly cut grass around it, clinging to the wall, it seemed, for dear life, to evade the mower, I suppose; I was actually surprised it survived the landscaping round that week. Usually, dandelions are properly disposed of, either dug up by the roots or poisoned with pesticide. They have acquired the stigma of being unwanted, a nuisance. After all, no one planted them; they just keep popping up unannounced, uninvited, trying to mingle with, more like corrupt, our carefully maintained flower beds. Sometimes, when we’re feeling nice or maybe just exhausted from having to battle them time and time again, we don’t kill them, we just try to bury them, slowly suffocate them, segregate them. We lay down the tarp to keep them underground, keep them submissive, keep them out of sight, keep them from the light and oxygen, keep them out of the soil of the superior flowers. But when and how did this wildflower discrimination start?

Some (many, all?) individuals in the system (school, workplace, government, society) are like this dandelion. The ones who form their own thoughts and have the desire to speak for themselves, have varied talents and gifts to offer, or worst of all, question or desire to change the status quo. They are individuals, individual human beings, yet they seem to become nothing more than numbers and statistics all too frequently and easily. The masses and The Man ignore them, ridicule them, silence them, threaten them, dismiss them, kill them. Just as we have labeled and degraded the dandelion to weed status, we label and degrade students, employees, citizens, humans. When a student loses recess, loses art and music electives, loses original thought, loses choice, loses voice, they lose. We all lose.

That “weed” is actually a wildflower named Dandelion. The name Dandelion originated in the early 1500s and means “tooth of a lion,” referring to its jagged leaves. The dandelion is gorgeously golden. It thrives in the sun, and its seeds were designed to soar in the wind. It is indefatigable, persistent, and seemingly impossible to eliminate; if but one part of its root is left intact, it will continue to grow and flourish. Every part of the dandelion is beneficial to our health as a food and medicine source for humans. Yes, the dandelion is a natural, beautiful, beneficial, and harmless wildflower, yet we persist in maintaining our collective, peer-pressured ideology that it is a weed that must be controlled, stamped out. No wonder it is born with the teeth of a lion: it must be a fighter in self-defense.

Perhaps someday, or even today, we can change our views. Perhaps one single person can, in fact, truly change the system, society’s view, the country’s view. Perhaps we can make room in our lawns for the dandelions, make room in our schools for the individuals, make room in our minds for different beliefs, ideas, and points of view. For it is that one single seed of an idea that can soar, that milky sap of the stem that can ooze forth when cracked open, that tiniest piece of root that can take hold and never let go… and spread throughout the world.

Find a dandelion and appreciate it today.

 

Words and image ©LauraDenise 06/11/17

5 thoughts on “The Dandelion Stigma

    1. Thank you! I was only going to do fresh-fresh on my new blog, but no sense banning beauty from my new beautiful place. My original blog name was Ardor’s Garden. 🙂 I have hundreds of pieces not posted.

      Liked by 1 person

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