Did you know there is a monument dedicated to a pest?! It stands in the center of Enterprise, Alabama, 13 feet high.
A hundred years ago the South’s economy depended almost entirely upon one crop: cotton. But the boll weevil, a beetle that feeds on cotton buds and flowers, made its way—at the rate of 100 miles a year—up from Mexico. It reached southern Alabama in 1915, destroying much of that year’s cotton crop and plunging the region’s economy into depression. The next years farmers lost their entire crop of cotton to the beetle.
But not everyone was losing all their crop. In 1916 one farmer decided to plant peanuts. This was the time when George Washington Carver was researching and popularizing new uses for the peanut, so the crop sold well, and the farmer paid off all his debts. Soon all followed him. What’s more, planting a different crop was good for soil which had been depleted by years of cotton crops.
Very quickly the people were able to recognize that the boll weevil plague was one of the best things to ever happen to their agricultural-based economy. They might never have considered peanuts, and eventually crop rotation, if they had not been forced to do so by the pest. A local businessman named Bon Fleming came up with the idea of a monument in the heart of the town’s business district, and helped to finance the cost. It was dedicated in December 1919. The oddity of a shrine to a pest has brought tourists out of their way to see it.
Two lessons for us:
● When disaster strikes in our lives, we can react in complaining and despair, or we can respond in trust and hope, waiting to see how God might use our troubles for our good. Somehow as we look back over our life, we see a pattern of growth as we go through hard times.
● When we begin to glimpse some of the goodness that has come our way through a trial or tragedy, let’s pause and give thanks. Maybe even find a creative way to memorialize the tragedy and the corresponding goodness. A way that will draw others to give thanks too. Maybe even for generations.