December 14, 2018
The recent passing of former President George H.W. Bush got me thinking about Presidents, past and present. It’s tempting to compare them, holding them up to some ideal standard that we each have, and pass judgement on their relative greatness. For his part, H.W. could turn a pretty good phrase, and the idea of “a kinder, gentler America” seemed almost Mr. Rogers-like in evoking memories, real or imagined, of a time when hearts could still afford to be more tender.
To this day, my own favorite President is Jimmy Carter. The peanut-farming, graciously chagrined brother of Billy “Billy Beer” Carter, Jimmy always seemed to embody the kinder, gentler American. He still wears his faith on his sleeve, yet he makes it real by regularly rolling up those sleeves to help out those in need. Even now, at age 94, Jimmy will show up at a Habitat for Humanity building site in blue jeans and a work shirt to get his hands dirty for a good cause.
Back when Jimmy was President the hippies had become a dying breed. Their cultural battle cry of “Make Love, Not War” had been disgraced, dismissed in America’s post-Vietnam haste to forget about a difficult and divisive chapter in our history. Along about this time, I had grown my hair out and was running a hippie natural foods lunch counter in my small Midwestern college town. As cultural subversion goes, lunch seemed pretty innocuous, but we didn’t eat what most folks ate. That was when I first began to realize that many Americans didn’t really like hippies, at all. I don’t know if it was Merle Haggard or, much later, Tom Brokaw who expressed most eloquently that “the hippies ruined America.” Dang. And I was just trying to “let my freak flag fly.”
Well, I’ve felt pretty bad about that ever since, and tried really hard to make it up to America. It’s been important to me to try and bridge the gap between Americans divided by their culture wars. While wanting to “Think globally, but act locally,” and live out Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world,” I have somehow managed to dig myself into my own entrenched partisan position in the latest American Culture War – the Zombie Apocalypse. In this war, Americans on both sides consider the opposition to be the mindless, soul-less “undead” that threaten to tear apart the very fabric of the nation. To counter this I’ve tried to be a good citizen, with petitions to the government, well-reasoned letters to my Congressman and the Editor, and insightful analysis of our predicament on Facebook, but I’ve found that you just can’t teach zombies anything, myself included.
I’ve been at my wit’s end trying to figure out how we get ourselves out of this national bind, asking myself WWJD, “What Would Jimmy Do?” Well, the old peanut farmer came through for me, reminding me in a flash of blinding insight, “Make Peanut Butter Balls, Not War.” I knew instantly what he meant. So I offer to you, my fellow Americans, our hearts heavy from the long years of culture wars, separated from friends and loved ones by our own myopic understanding of what it means to be human, a healing balm. Well, maybe something that just tastes good, but trust me, it’s a peace offering. It amazes me that now, rolling down the long corridors of time, come these Hippie Peanut Butter Balls, just when our nation needs them most. Be careful with this gift; my wife tells me that, like so many things Hippie, these Peanut Butter Balls can be addicting.
Hippie Peanut Butter Balls
In a large mixing bowl combine:
28 oz. extra crunchy peanut butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1 cup quick, 1-minute oats
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
½ cup honey
In a small bowl pour out more sweetened coconut flakes. You’ll need an additional 1¼ to 1½ cups of the coconut flakes for this. Roll the Hippie Peanut Butter Ball mix into balls an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter. These balls will be pretty sticky, and much peace and joy will come to you (or others) by repeatedly licking this delicious goo off your fingers and then washing your hands thoroughly so that the next few balls you roll won’t just stick to you. Be sure to practice good hygiene here, but allow yourself to fully “live in the moment.” Now, roll each ball around in the small bowl filled with sweetened coconut flakes, causing sweet coconut to stick to the outside of each ball. Makes about 4 dozen. Serve chilled, frozen, or at room temperature.
If you are worried about the calories, you are not yet in the proper frame of mind to enter into “The Peace.” Serve these peacemakers to your loved ones, friends, and long-lost but treasured zombies, while taking a moment to consider that we are all still one.
Peace and Love,
Mothy Groves is a writer and thinker, a one-time baker and candlestick maker living around these parts here in Carlton County, Minnesota. He wishes you and yours all things good.