The passage given below is followed by a question. Choose the best answer.
The story begins as the European pioneers crossed the Alleghenies and started to settle in the Midwest. The land they found was covered with forests. With incredible effort they felled the trees, pulled the stumps and planted their crops in the rich, loamy soil. When they finally reached the western edge of the place we now call Indiana, the forest stopped and ahead lay a thousand miles of the great grass prairie. The Europeans were puzzled by this new environment. Some even called it the ‘Great Desert’. It seemed untillable. The earth was often very wet and it was covered with centuries of tangled and matted grasses. With their cast iron plows, the settles found that the prairie sod could not be cut and the wet earth stuck to their plowshares. Even a team of the best oxen bogged down after a few years of tugging. The iron plow was a useless tool to farm the prairie soil. The pioneers were stymied for nearly two decades. Their western march was halted and they filled in the eastern regions of the Midwest.
In $1837,$ a blacksmith in the town of grand Detour, lllinois, invented a new tool. His name was John Deere and the tool was a plow made of steel. It was sharp enough to cut through matted grasses and smooth enough to cast off the mud. It was a simple tool, the “sod buster” that opened the great prairies to agricultural development.
Sauk County, Wisconsin is the part of that prairie where I have a home. It is named after the Sauk Indians. In $1673$, Father Marquette was the first European to lay his eyes upon their land. He found a village laid out in regular patterns on a plain beside the Wisconsin River. He called the place Prairie du Sac. The village was surrounded by fields that had provided maize, beans and squash for the Sauk people for generations reaching back into the unrecorded time.
When the European settlers arrived at the Sauk prairie in $1837,$ the government forced the native Sauk people west of the Mississippi River. The settlers came with John Deere’s new invention and used the tool to open the area to a new kind of agriculture. They ignored the traditional ways of the Sauk Indians and used their sod-busting tool for planting wheat. Initially, the soil was generous and the farmers thrived. However, each year the soil lost more of its nurturing power. It was only thirty years after the Europeans arrived with their new technology that the land was depleted. Wheat farming became uneconomic and tens of thousands of farmers left Wisconsin seeking new land with sod to bust.
It took the Europeans and their new technology just one generation to make their homeland into a desert. The Sauk Indians who knew how to sustain themselves on the Sauk prairie land were banished to another kind of desert called a reservation. And they even forgot about the techniques and tools that had sustained them on the prairie for generations unrecorded. And that is how it was that three deserts were created- Wisconsin, the reservation and the memories of a people. A century later, the land of the Sauks is now populated by the children of a second wave of European farmers who learned to replenish the soil through the regenerative powers of dairying, ground cover crops and animal manures. These third and fourth generation farmers and townspeople do not realise, however, that a new settler is coming soon with an invention as powerful as John Deere’s plow.
The new technology is called ‘bereavement counselling’. It is a tool forged at the great state university, an innovative technique to meet the needs of those experiencing the death of a loved one, a tool that can “process” the grief of the people who now live on the Prairie of the Sauk. As one can imagine the final days of the village of the Sauk Indians before the arrival of the settlers with John Deere’s plow, one can also imagine these final days before the arrival of the first bereavement counsellor at Prairie du Sac. In these final days, the farmers and the townspeople mourn at the death of a mother, brother, son or friend. The bereaved is joined by neighbours and kin. They meet grief together in lamentation, prayer and song. They call upon the words of the clergy and surround themselves in community.
It is in these ways that they grieve and then go on with life. Through their mourning they are assured of the bonds between them and renewed in the knowledge that this death is a part of the Prairie of the Sauk. Their grief is common property, anguish from which the community draws strength and gives the bereaved the courage to move ahead.
It is into this prairie community that the bereavement counsellor arrives with the new grief technology. The counsellor calls the invention a service and assures the prairie folk of its effectiveness and superiority by invoking the name of the great university while displaying a diploma and certificate. At first, we can imagine that the local people will be puzzled by the bereavement counsellor’s claim. However, the counsellor will tell a few of them that the new technique is merely to assist the bereaved’s community at the time of death. To some other prairie folk who are isolated or forgotten, the counsellor will approach the County Board and advocate the right to treatment for these unfortunate souls. This right will be guaranteed by the Board’s decision to reimburse those too poor to pay for counselling services. There will be others, schooled to believe in the innovative new tools certified by universities and medical centres, who will seek out the bereavement counsellor by force of habit. And one of these people will tell a bereaved neighbour who is unschooled that unless his grief is processed by a counsellor, he will probably have major psychological problems in later life. Several people will begin to use the bereavement counsellor because, since the County Board now taxes them to insure access to the technology, they will feel that to fail to be counselled is to waste their money, and to be denied a benefit, or even a right.
Finally, one day, the aged father of a Sauk woman will die. And the next door neighbour will not drop by because he doesn’t want to interrupt the bereavement counsellor. The woman’s kin will stay home because they will have learned that only the bereavement counsellor knows how to process grief the proper way. The local clergy will seek technical assistance from the bereavement counsellor to learn the correct form of service to deal with guilt and grief. And the grieving daughter will know that it is the bereavement counsellor who really cares for her because only the bereavement counsellor comes when death visits this family on the Prairie of the Sauk.
It will be only one generation between the bereavement counsellor arrives and the community of mourners disappears. The counsellor’s new tool will cut through the social fabric, throwing aside kinship, care, neighbourly obligations and community ways of coming together and going on. Like John Deere’s plow, the tools of bereavement counselling will create a desert where a community once flourished. And finally, even the bereavement counsellor will see the impossibility of restoring hope in clients once they are genuinely alone with nothing but a service for consolation. In the inevitable failure of the service, the bereavement counsellor will find the deserts even in herself.
Which one of the following best describes the approach of the author?
- Comparing experiences with two innovations tried, in order to illustrate the failure of both.
- Presenting community perspectives on two technologies which have had negative effects on people.
- Using the negative outcomes of one innovation to illustrate the likely outcomes of another innovation.
- Contrasting two contexts separated in time, to illustrate how ‘deserts’ have arisen.