The Tremendous Power of Flowers
As many Parisians gathered to hold vigils in remembrance of loved ones lost to the Paris terrorist attacks, a father and son were singled out by a French media journalist interested in their thoughts on the previous day’s tragic events.
While a cute-as-a-button toddler is perched safely on his father’s knee, he watches as his dad gives an interview. The reporter was anxious for a first-hand account and to understand how they would have the courage to attend another possible targeted event so soon after the horrific incident. Then reporter turned his microphone to the boy.
This small, innocent child kept glancing over at his father face as he recalled the experience the best he could. “They have guns, they can shoot as us because they have guns and are bad, Daddy,” the boy says while try to explain to the reporter why his family has to change homes.
“Well, they have guns, but we have flowers,” his father quickly reassured him.
As an outsider, you can completely see the confusion on this child’s face. The little boy is looking up, trying to absorb his father’s advice. After his moment of deep contemplation, the boy replies with great wisdom, “But flowers don’t do anything.” And I’m agreeing with this four-year-old… Really Dad? Come on!
“Of course they do,” he calmly reassures his son. “See how everyone is putting flowers? They’re to fight against the guns,” he says as his son looks at the massive amounts of flowers laid to memorialize the victims. “It’s to not forget those who left us yesterday.”
If you haven’t caught this interview, it’s worth the minute and a half to watch it. From the beginning to the end, I was tearing up, listening to this father’s wisdom. With half my life donated to the horticulture world, I’ve never grasped the enormous strength of a delicate flower until now. I want to warn you, if you don’t want this heart-tugging moment to be ruined, don’t read the cynical reader comments in the end.
Then I began to ponder:
There is a reason the floral industry has stood the test of time. Archeologists have discovered as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans used flowers in their ceremonies. And just as today, brides carried their favorite flowers down the aisle. On the surface, brides do that because flowers are a beautiful tradition, but they also symbolize our connection to the earth and each other.
Why do we send flower arrangements to those who are sick? To brighten a patient’s spirit. What we don’t think about are those flowers provide more clean oxygen and it’s been scientifically proven that they help heal patients faster.
Why are flowers so important when a loved one dies? We send flowers to funerals because they intuitively reduce our stress while expressing love and compassion without the need for words.
What are we thinking when we spend our hard earned money on plants and flowers just to aesthetically decorate our homes or office? We add plants to our indoor environments because they are nature’s air purifiers that improve our health and mental well-being.
Beyond all that, if you really think about it, we wouldn’t be able to exist on this planet without the world of plants and flowers. Yet, they can easily exist without us. They don’t complain when we pluck their leaves for our nourishment. Despite how many fields, forests or parries we harm for our own benefit, they continue to regrow themselves. When we chop off the bottom of a redwood tree that has seen years of history go by, they don’t strike back. Despite how many amazing trees we kill to provide a better habitat for ourselves, they will never declare war against us. Silently, they continue to slowly regenerate, supplying humans with more resources.
To me, that’s proof of genuine unconditional love. A kind of love, that is so hard to describe in words. So when we place hundreds of flowers around a memorial, good people are expressing to the world that this powerful human emotion of love will conquer all… when we band together as one.
Featured image by Blink Ofanaye