“Rust, a parasite growing on barberry bushes brought west by settlers, severely damages wheat crops. Later epidemics of wheat rust lead to the outlawing of barberry bushes in 1918.
Epidemics occur again in 1904 and 1916 before the state outlaws the culprit carriers. The problem is eradicated over the next decades through the efforts of “Barberry Bees,” organized to dig up bushes, “Rust Busters Clubs” in schools, and bounties paid for reporting barberry in the 1940s.” *
Some days it is burdensome to read chapters of history like the Rust Plague. It feels like human perception of reality, myself included of course, is a one-trick pony. We fail over and over to see cause and effect relationships though surrounded with personal and practical examples.
When confronted with the tragic, we react with externalizing our pain. “It must be someone else’s fault that I have this problem”, we say to ourselves. Moreover, You are a convenient target for our misuse or overuse of natural resources.
Creator of All Nature, this is the ray of light I see in this Rust Plague; eventually the curious among us found a relationship. We found that transporting plants, namely berberis vulgaris, from their origins resulted in creating an undesired effect when they reached our desired destinations.** We loved progress, but lacked the knowledge and wisdom to enact it in this case.
Lord, was there something to this parasite outbreak other than nature? I believe that You are far more merciful to us than our sins deserve, but simultaneously maintain justice and enact wise judgments. You remain in perfect balance; neither favoring grace or truth. Our separation from You and our fellow man has its consequences. I can think of several events that happened in this time frame that caused massive unrest:
the creation of the Federal Reserve -1913
the negation of the Nicaragua Canal
the first foray into US nation-building that created the nation of Panama
the opening of the Panama Canal – 1914
sinking of the Lusitania – May 7, 1915
Poncho Villa raids US – 1916
President Wilson commits our troops to WWI, in spite of his campaign promise; “He kept us out of the war.” – 1917
Wilson “14 Point of Peace” – 1918
and extensive upheavals between labor and the industrialists.
Lord Jesus, will You enter into this chapter of our history again? Will You, by Your kind Holy Spirit, point out offenses that we may have made towards You? Did we curse the ground, or more specifically the wheat crops of Minnesota? Were You just maturing us to trust You in difficult times? Was a disease necessary to place nature in proper balance?
Jesus, please forgive us any root judgments that contributed to the rust epidemic. Will You heal our land and our hearts, to receive You where our ancestors may have missed You? Will You make us capable of self-examination, observant of our surroundings, and shield us from the temptation to only look for external targets of our wrath and blame rather than responsibility, reason, and relationship?
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!